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GO GREEN SPIRITUALITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The Challenges Facing Spirituality and the environment
Green religion now applies to generally all religious groups worldwide, though again the biggest challenge is not about whether or not to go green, but putting aside religious differences and joining forces with a common goal to care properly for the planet. In most religions, the belief that a higher being or creator made everything, including us, allowed us to be the caretakers of the planet and use it, is commonplace. However, even within each religion, binding together this concept with green social responsibility and ethics is challenging. For as many religious interpretations that there are, there are equally if not more views on how to incorporate the spiritual side into going green. Ironically, some see such eco friendly spirituality as being a remnant of ancient times and more paganistic religions where planet, plants, rocks and animals were given some small or larger spiritual significance. It is a major barrier that in some ways is one of the main contributors to the issues faced by those seeking green living through their religious beliefs. Worse though, some religious and spiritual people still maintain a hierarchy of which religion is more spiritual, good or environmentally conscious or even has been afforded that right by our creator.
Go Green Spirituality
It may seem that the battle to save our planet is being overshadowed by the debating between and intolerance of varied religious texts, practices and beliefs. However, as the meeting of world religious leaders in Sydney, Australia, clearly demonstrated, these issues can be overcome by education, understanding, tolerance and the basics of all religions, respecting and caring for each other as we would have them do for us. In fact, this meeting of the major world religious groups emphasized that green spirituality and environmental care can work in tandem if nurtured properly, appropriately and respectfully. All groups present did not underestimate the duty and responsibility of all religious peoples to join forces to care and protect our planet as our creator expects.
The Maori are an example of one world aboriginal nation that continues to maintain a merged balance between their spiritual beliefs and going green. In fact, as with most aboriginal nations worldwide, nothing has changed in this regard. A sense of respect for the great gift that was bestowed on people with our planet is apparent, but more importantly, eco friendly spirituality is as much a part of daily life as basic survival because the Maori encourage and mandate laws enforcing community concepts, behaviours and sharing. In fact, this community spirit is what binds their spirituality to our environment.
Going green with spirituality is a critical thing that the aboriginal peoples of the world can teach everyone. Even in the darkest reaches of Western culture, such spiritual binding with the environment had been the norm. Today, we see spirituality and green practices and actions as a choice, whereas hundreds of years ago, it was mandatory. In those days, global warming and climate change were not issues and they had a choice, but they chose to do the right thing out of respect.
It seems that respect is the key to bringing together world spirituality with going green to save our environment. Therefore, it seems to be a matter of common sense that by getting in touch with our spirituality, our pure selves, by helping the planet, and by saving our environment as a part of normal life (something that we enjoy and are proud of and that we do not need to be forced to do), we will be helping our environment through green spirituality because it is the right thing to do, and it comes from within us.
- “Spirituality and Environment”, Steven Jeffrey, online article, Ecopsychology.Org, 2003, http://www.ecopsychology.org/journal/gatherings8/html/spirit/spirituality_jeffrey.html
- “The Environment: Who Cares?”, online articles, GreenChristian.Co.UK, 2009, http://greenchristian.co.uk/2009/08/the-environment-who-cares/
- “Interfaith gathering works on going green”, Richard C. Dujardin, online article, Projo.Com, 2008, http://www.projo.com/religion/content/interfaith_energy_01-13-08_EG8IVLT_v12.20c09e3.html
- “Australia Welcomes Parliament of World's Religions”, Phil Mercer, 1.VoaNews.Com, 2009, http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/religion/03dec09-australia-religion-meeting-78406997.html
- “Whale Rider”, online article, Piccom.Org, 2009, http://www.piccom.org/home/whalerider/culture_spirituality.html
- “Green religion”, Mark Wallace, speech, Western Illinois University, 2010, http://www.wiu.edu/newsrelease.sphp?release_id=5741