Climate catastrophe and cosmic calm
The looming climate crisis seems very real. The science and stats are clear, the solutions obvious yet hard to implement. The world’s governments seem to be doing very little to combat the problem. But we as individuals also have our part to play. We can make changes to our lives that send signals and contribute in real ways to alleviating the climate crisis.
That said, it is very easy to fall into despondency. We can feel like our individual efforts are too puny and futile to make a difference while the impending crisis is unavoidable. This sense of gloom can invade our very beings pushing us into denial and inaction. If not, our actions may be motivated by fear, anger and complete desperation making it hard to sustain a life devoted to the earth’s wellbeing.
This shows that our efforts and emotions devoted to sustainability need to be sustainable themselves. We need to develop a mindset that allows us to contribute to the climate issue without robbing us of inner equilibrium. One way to do this is to maintain a sense of perspective, a perspective that adds balance to the issue without undermining it.
From where we stand, the climate crisis is real. It is a negative scenario that is hard to stomach. But if we zoom back a bit and look at the situation, we can see it with more calmness. Cosmologically speaking, we inhabit just one of the mind-bogglingly large number of planets in the galaxy and universe. Moreover, human history is a blink in the eye of cosmic time. From this point of view, our climate crisis is less significant. This is not to promote any kind of nihilism but just to get a wider perspective on the issue.
From a theological point of view, in particular one that is theistic, we are creations of God living in God’s creation. Anything that happens in His creation, does so according to His Will. Our ultimate destiny is in His grasp, so even if the worst-case climate scenario does eventuate, all will not be lost, from this macro-perspective anyway. Also, this is not our true life. Our true life begins in the spiritual world after our bodies die. This world is like a shadow when compared to the world of God’s spiritual kingdoms.
But that doesn’t mean this world we live in is a mere illusion and this earthly life a mere waste of time. I believe we have been put here for a purpose: to purify our souls by building a peaceful planet. This is our task in life. On this human plane we do have free will and our actions do matter. So we have to meaningfully engage with the world around us with a sense of deep purpose. We have to dedicate our lives to the betterment of the world, including and especially to the earth and the atmosphere that shelters all its inhabitants. But we have to do this with a sense of perspective. We engage in service to the world knowing that our actions matter but by also being aware of the wider backdrop in which our actions take place: the vast universe controlled by the Hand of God. When we do this, we can act with devotion and detachment. But this detachment is not one of aloofness. It is action-driven by purpose not desperation. It is action guided by faith in which we utilise our individual will and talents knowing that we cannot single-handedly fix everything. This awareness of our limited capacity takes nothing away from our sense of duty to do our best. Each day we fully dedicate our lives to the good of all and the alleviation of suffering while comforted by the seemingly paradoxical truth that if we zoom right out or delve deep within, everything is always okay. But we need to make sure that this deep sense of "okay" doesn't diminish our drive to dedicate ourselves to the betterment of the world!