In February, the Climate Action Committee at Radnor Meeting presented the following at the hybrid Meeting for Worship With Attention to Business. Our next committee meetings will be on the further work we are doing surrounding EMERGE. Drop a note in the comments if you have thoughts or want to be in the committee’s e-loop.
“We seek an earth restored.”
A Work in Progress, by the Climate Action Committee, Radnor Monthly Meeting, Villanova, PA
WHY “EMERGE”? INTRODUCTORY NOTE
The Climate Action Committee at Radnor Meeting believes that Quakers are called to think globally and act in community, as we acknowledge our personal and collective responsibility for the global environmental crisis. This crisis includes the global heating driving climate change, which affects all people and all living communities of Earth.
To address this, we learn, we grow, we act, and we educate in several key areas: energy use in our buildings; care for our grounds; mindful diet; and transportation policy and practice.
We seek to contribute to a robust human effort to address this crisis on multiple levels:
- Monthly Meeting;
- Broader, interwoven Quaker communities including those dedicated to Earthcare and Ecojustice; and
- Interfaith communities;
- Governmental–exerting pressure for state, national, and international policy and action.
The Quaker SPICES Testimonies further our discernment. Yet there is a specific urgency in sea level rise, ocean acidification, extreme heat and wildfires, loss of rivers and agricultural productivity, loss of homes, degradation of oceans and waterways, extinctions and the loss of habitats. And this urgency speaks to the importance of creating and living a set of values specific to our global environmental crisis.
As the acronym SPICES guides spiritual attitudes and engagement, the acronym EMERGE can guide discernment as we learn to avoid doing further anthropogenic damage, and as we live in right relationship with Earth’s finite components and its natural balance. The values that make up EMERGE are:
- Ecological Integrity;
- Right Action;
- Growth; and
Ultimately, we envision a spiritual emergence. We strive to help humanity, too, emerge from this critical era as a community that can live in harmony with our planet and respect for its systems and all its precious life.
Empathy is a bedrock of our shared values in climate ethics. Empathy leads us to appreciate how we’re embedded in life, our human community, and our greater biological community. Our empathy is strong—and leads us to commitment.
Mindfulness is the active practice of bearing witness. It is our continuing awareness of the impact of what we do, and what we refrain from doing, across systems, across time, across communities, and throughout the web of life. It includes a willingness to simplify our lives, with attention to details, follow-through, and support for each other’s efforts.
Ecological Integrity is our connection, our sense of community and oneness, with all beings and all systems we affect and in which we exist and live and move. It is our recognition that we are one with our ecosphere, not separate. We are responsible for acting in a way that respects natural evolutionary processes and promotes the health of Earth and its magnificent, intricate systems. Moreover the value of integrity speaks to the importance of attention to doing what we say and to acting on what we understand. And to the importance of bringing our values into the world.
Right Action follows from courageous discernment of how best to act in accordance with climate ethics, including refraining from action. It embraces the urgency of now, and manifests in principled leadership. We understand that our environment is shared by all; so are the impacts of our actions. The fruits of our world grow for all. It is important to affirmatively include future generations of all living beings in right action. It is also important to affirmatively include historically exploited, financially and socially isolated, and otherwise vulnerable human communities. These groups are currently bearing and will continue to bear the harshest impacts of climate breakdown. They will be first to lose their homes and their dreams to the chaos driven by the profit-chasing and the complacency in wealthier regions.
Growth pertains to our spiritual evolution. It includes a willingness to engage in deep listening, to learn from errors, and to strive for, and act upon, new understandings and continuing revelation. Potential for growth relies on a willingness to challenge hierarchies within humanity (examples: male supremacy, white supremacy, war, or the colonizer’s mindset), and beyond (for example: human supremacy); and the humility to recognize our own limitations. We can’t fix the evolution that we’ve broken, or bring back decimated cultures. But we can interrupt the continued pattern of dominion, hierarchy, inequality, land-grabbing, and exploitation. We can grow, and we can act.
Growth appears in our willingness to share the fruits of our planet with all inhabitants while sacrificing personal wealth and comfort for the sustainability of our world (“living simply, so others may simply live”).
Endurance is the courage to passionately persist in the face of apparently impossible odds and devastating consequences. To be led by the wisdom of Spirit. We might not witness the fruits of our work, but we know those fruits will grow from the seeds we plant at this moment.
INTENT: THE EMERGENCE OF AN AUTHENTICALLY SUSTAINABLE HUMAN COMMUNITY
It’s natural to want to turn away from anxiety-producing information. The problems are so big, complex, entrenched. If we can change our focus from what is convenient for us – from doing what we now do to what we are capable of doing – to living as part of our glorious natural system, we can feel safe and confident working in harmony with our environment, rather than selfishly exploiting it. We can become spiritually resilient through the knowledge that this harmony is our touchstone.
We believe emergence from humanity’s destructive patterns requires spiritual growth. And spiritual growth helps dispel our anxiety, allowing us to live in harmony with our Earth.
Beneficial growth enables us to understand ourselves; to remember what we have done that has harmed or excluded the experiences of others outside what we’ve defined as our groups. It enables us to transcend aggressor and dominator habits; to learn to live within our ethical means on a finite planet; to understand that what Earth produces are not humanity’s resources alone; to seek the fullness of life in simplicity; to heal, soothe, and fortify ourselves; and to do our best to emerge from an existential, human-driven crisis with integrity… to love, deeply and infinitely.
Several Friends kindly reviewed EMERGE and sent their suggestions and thoughts about this effort. One correspondent expressed being heartened to know that Radnor Meeting is “truly under the weight of” the climate emergency and the concern that Quakers forge a touchstone response. Thoughts from other Friends:
“Wow, this is a great idea! I love how you use the word EMERGE, signifying a transformation or emergence from our current state to a new way of living. And then take each letter and have it progress from empathy, mindfulness, and ecological integrity, to right action, growth, and finally, endurance. It’s a beautiful statement of values. There is so much wisdom in this approach.”
“I hope that when you finish this work, Radnor will share it within the Quarter as a minute for other Friends to consider.”
“I am very impressed by the statement. I have read it slowly and thoughtfully four or five times, and believe that it is important for Friends to do that, to absorb and consider the content. I agree that it can be a vehicle for ethical and spiritual progress. I was struck by how carefully the words and concepts were chosen to lead the reader in self-examination. At least, that was true for me. I believe all Friends should read the statement, and hopefully be moved to self-reflection and action as I was. I want to recognize and encourage the valuable work of the Climate Action Committee.”