We don’t torture [unless it’s in our best interests]

The New York Times today published an article entitled “Letters Give CIA a Legal Rationale.”   It seems that once again, our arrogance as supreme power has given us a method to snub our noses at the Geneva Convention and other international laws that define torture. 

What struck me as veery in-ter-restink as Arte Johnson’s character on the late 1960’s comedy “Laugh In” would say is that John McCain has been arguing on both sides of the street for and against torture.  Glenn Greenwald, former constitutional lawyer and civil rights litigator on his blog in response to the NYTimes announcement today wrote:   ” In September, 2006, McCain made a melodramatic display — with great media fanfare — of insisting that the Military Commissions Act [MCA] require compliance with the Geneva Conventions for all detainees. But while the MCA purports to require that, it also vested sole and unchallenged discretion in the President to determine what does and does not constitute a violation of the Conventions. [bold is Greenwald’s]  After parading around as the righteous opponent of torture, McCain nonetheless endorsed and voted for the MCA, almost single-handedly ensuring its passage. That law pretends to compel compliance with the Conventions, while simultaneously vesting the President with the power to violate them — precisely the power that the President is invoking here to proclaim that we have the right to use these methods.” 

If this isn’t enough in the veery in-ter-restink category, Glenn Greenwald claims in his book Great American Hypocrites which he quotes on his blog, John McCain also is the proponent of another act that allows for torture to occur while pretending that it is opposing torture.  Greenwald writes:

In 2005, McCain led the effort in the Senate to pass the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which made the use of torture illegal. While claiming that he had succeeded in passing a categorical ban on torture, however, McCain meekly accepted two White House maneuvers that diluted his legislation to the point of meaningless: (1) the torture ban expressly applied only to the U.S. military, but not to the intelligence community, which was exempt, thus ensuring that the C.I.A.—the principal torture agent for the United States—could continue to torture legally; and (2) after signing the DTA into law, which passed the Senate by a vote of 90–9, President Bush issued one of his first controversial “signing statements” in which he, in essence, declared that, as President, he had the power to disregard even the limited prohibitions on torture imposed by McCain’s law.”

So what does this all mean?  It means that our nation does not torture unless it is in our national interests to do so.  Which means we use torture because as Supreme Power- we can;   [thumb in ears, waving fingers with tongue stuck out at the rest of the global community].  And it means that John McCain does not deserve to be President because he is a mastermind of melodrama as a ruse to keep our eyes off of what is up his sleeve.  No one can be that naive to present legislation as one thing and then allow concessions of this magnitude and not know it makes the legislation not worth the paper it is printed on.  He knew and he approved.

McCain aside, the topic of what is and isn’t torture has been in the American conversation before.  And we need to look at this a bit deeper than McCain’s protestations and complicity.  Paul Kramer wrote for the New Yorker an article entitled “The Water Cure: Debating Torture and Counterinsurgency–A Century Ago.”  

A different form of water torture was used then with Filipinos who had thought that we were liberating the Philippines from Spain so they could be an independent and sovereign state.  Americans thought that as well, because the rationale used to take American into war with Spain was for “liberation, rescue, and freedom.” [hmmm… I have heard this rationale used recently to go to war withanother country…]  When the Filipinos realized that US intention was to assimilate Filipinos into American citizens, they fought back.  When they fought back, US soldiers used “the water cure” to gain information from their prisoners.   The notion that America used torture brought outrage to the world stage and to Americans.  [We then ruled the Philippines for an additional 40 years.]  Yet, after a few months of debate  Paul Kramer states:

“The public became inured to what had, only months earlier, been alarming revelations.  [T]he New York World [ in 1902] described the “American Public” sitting down to eat its breakfast with a newspaper full of Philippine atrocities: It sips its coffee and reads of its soldiers administering the “water cure” to rebels; of how water with handfuls of salt thrown in to make it more efficacious, is forced down the throats of the patients until their bodies become distended to the point of bursting; of how our soldiers then jump on the distended bodies to force the water out quickly so that the “treatment” can begin all over again. The American Public takes another sip of its coffee and remarks, ‘How very unpleasant!’ ”

This seems to be the direction that the American public is going with the current ‘is it torture?’ debate.  I opened with the statement that America’s arrogance is snubbing our noses at International Law.   We have grown arrogant in our location as a Supreme power… I do not use the phrase super power because we are now the only super power in the world and in my mind that makes us Supreme.   There is a real danger in playing the Supreme Power role, aka god.  Arrogance is only the beginning of the selling of our American soul as supreme power.  Such arrogance usually follows with a case of supreme humiliation…  Has our world history of the 20th century taught us nothing? 

We have an opportunity for repentance.  A word that simply means to change directions and head a better way.   There is an organization that is seeking to stop torture in the US not just by the US military but also by the CIA called  The National Religious Campaign Against Torture or NRCAT.   In June they are hoping congregations in every state will display a banner stating “Torture is a Moral Issue” or “Torture is Wrong.”   They are seeking to bring this discussion to the national arena to end once and for all this administration’s use of torture and to ensure that torture by any other name is never used again in the name of democracy, freedom, and liberation.  

As a people of faith, we must speak to our legislators that euphemistic terms for torture is still torture.  That allowing the CIA to torture still means we use torture.  We must insist the Executive branch of our government to adhere to International laws regarding international interpretation of defining torture.  The Executive branch of our government needs to be held accountable to the constitution and to the laws of the land.  The Executive branch must be curtailed in its abuse of power of “signing statements” which have been used to state the law is to be enforced unless the President says otherwise.  

We don’t torture unless it’s in our best interests is not an acceptable answer. The ideals of this nation are founded on higher principles than the ole “because I said so” of the Presidents.   It is time we begin living up to our calling as a nation dedicated to liberty, and justice for all.  We must live up to our calling that Lincoln calls us to as written on his memorial … “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”   So may it be…  Blessings, Rev. Fred L Hammond

 

Advertisements
Published in: on April 27, 2008 at 11:57 pm  Comments Off on We don’t torture [unless it’s in our best interests]  
Tags: , ,

Truth Commission part deux

I spent the day listening and participating in the continued exploration of developing a Truth Commission in Mississippi.   There were about 40 of us from across the state to continue the discussion and next steps in this quest to own our past and to help shape our future.  This morning we heard from the Greensboro Truth Commission speak about their experiences.  The panel consisted of Jill Williams, former executive director of the Greensboro Truth Commision, Rev. Nelson Johnson, survivor of the November 3rd 1979 shooting, and retired Mississippi Episcopal Bishop ‘Chip’ Marble, who retired to Greensboro.  They were a powerful panel sharing their personal struggles and victories of the spirit.  

In the telling of their story, they tell of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s visit where he told them, “You will always be a crippled community, whether you like it or not… as long as you refuse to face up to your past.”

Rev. Johnson tells us that everything that we are today is a product of our past.  We can’t simply leapfrog over our past to suddenly make a better community, we must instead “work through our DNA of our yesterday– push beyond the acceptability [levels] of justice” because what we are dealing with “sinks beneath the surface and gets into the drinking water” of how we live our daily lives.  This is how insidious the acts of the past are on our present. 

Desmond Tutu told the Greensboro folk, that there is no such thing as a Truth Commission that is authentic that isn’t strongly opposed.  So expect this to be a moral and spiritual issue. 

By lunch time we were asked if we were ready to take the next steps to develop a declaration of intention.  With a few exceptions, the entire room stood up in unison to proclaim we were ready to begin this work.   We were reminded of the previous meetings where we discussed a possible time period in Mississippi history of 1945-1975.  1945 because this was the end of a World War where black men were coming home after fighting for democracy and not having its power at home.  1975 because this is the time of the rise of white private academies to ensure that segregation would remain in Mississippi.  This time line is still under discussion.  We are aware that there were events before 1945 and we are painfully aware of events after 1975 that could be explored to tell the story.  We broke into three groups where we were asked to consider these three questions that would assist us in developing our declaration of intent.  

1) What are the injustices that need to be examined that would tell the story of Mississippi?

2) What is it we want to achieve with this Truth Commission?

3) How do we link this work [of the Truth Commission] to the continuing work of Equity and Justice?

The afternoon sessions were equally powerful.   I am personally grateful to assist in this work in whatever small measure I can.   May the truth of what happened in Mississippi and how our past shapes our present, set us free to enable us to be able to consciously shape the future where all receive equitable justice and treatment.  Blessings,

Published in: on April 27, 2008 at 4:06 am  Comments Off on Truth Commission part deux  
Tags: ,

How desperate the cut off line of poverty

My friend Rev. Ricky talks on his blog about a woman in his congregation who was denied services from an agency she needed because she did not meet the eligibility requirements.  She felt anger towards the non-profit and wanted to get beyond it.

In reading this, I was reminded of a surviving spouse of a person we served at Interfaith AIDS Ministry.  She wanted to know how she could continue receiving supports from us.  She had given us the complement that we did what we said we would do and that our services actually made it easier for families struggling.  Our policy was that we continued providing supports to the family one year after the person with HIV/AIDS died as a means to help with the grieving process and to aid in transitioning to other support agencies if needed.  

She was at the cut-off line in eligibility for services from other agencies.  It was clear that she and her family would benefit greatly but that she simply did not qualify because of a number of factors.  She told me that she would infect herself with HIV if it meant that she would be able to live a more quality-filled life with services.  Needless to say I counseled her away from such an action, yet here was the level of desperation we have come to in this country.  Stating that her quality of life would be improved with HIV-a disease that includes treatments that are oft times just as painful and disabling as the disease itself-is a harsh commentary on American life.

At that time, I heard similar stories from my executive director colleagues in the HIV/AIDS arena.  The work they began doing was more and more poverty relief. How do you provide sufficient supports to people living with HIV/AIDS and their families when they are on the cut off line of poverty?  When they are unable to make ends meet on minimum wage? 

It isn’t just HIV/AIDS that places them on this cut-off line… the line is filled with so many more factors…  As the recession that our government denies being in deepens, families that have been floating just above this cut-off line will begin to sink.   It is already happening.   The gap is growing between the rich and the poor.   The middle is waisting away to use an HIV/AIDS metaphor. 

What is the response of the church?  What will it take for us to respond in a manner that doesn’t just provide a safety net for those falling but prevents the fall in the first place.  There is a story that I have heard many versions of and it has been attributed to many people that I do not know its original source. 

The story goes like this…  I was walking along a river when I saw a baby drowning.  I ran in and pulled the baby out.  Just as I pulled this baby out, I saw another baby drowning in the river and another.  I called on the passer-bys and soon there were hundreds of us saving babies drowning the river.  We formed an organization to save drowning babies.  We had services galore for these drowning babies.  Then it dawned on me, and I left the river.  People asked me where was I going when there was so much work to do?  I said, I am going up stream to find out who is throwing babies into the river and stop them. 

Justice is not just the pulling out of the river the drowning babies.  Justice is locating the cause that placed the babies in the river to drown in the first place and stopping that causal condition.   We in America have many causes to the drowning babies problem. 

We can get caught up in the symptom and think that this is the work we must do- to treat the symptom.  Yes, by all means help those suffering and seek to relieve their suffering.  But to truly create justice in America we need to focus on the cause and work there as well. 

I have seen more poverty since moving to Mississippi.  I see more people who are on this cut off line.  They are struggling to make ends meet.  I have listened to their stories, heard their despair, and felt their hopelessness that things will get better.   We need to do better.   We are the richest country in the world and we can do better.  We can create justice that is equitable and compassionate.   Let us begin.  Blessings,

 

 

  

Published in: on April 26, 2008 at 2:14 pm  Comments Off on How desperate the cut off line of poverty  
Tags: , ,

Day of Silence

Today, thousands of students across the country participated in the Day of Silence. I do not know how many or if any students in Mississippi participated.  This has been an annual event sponsored by GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Educators Network) to bring attention to the plight of sexual minorities being harrassed, bullied, and yes, even killed for being gay in schools. 

This year’s Day of Silence is in memory of Larry King, a 14 year old boy who was killed by another student because Larry sent a valentines card to him.  The idea that receiving a valentine card from some one the same gender is so horrific that the only proper recourse is to shoot him goes against all rational human logic.  Yet, in our society, thousands believe that of all the verses in Leviticus that can be set aside as not being applicable to 21st century living, the one verse that must be upheld is the one that refers to men lying with men as with a woman being an abomination and should be killed.  The teenager who shot and killed Larry King thought this was the appropriate way to respond to receiving a card offering admiration and affection.   

There are two victims of this death; Larry and Brandon, the boy who killed him.  GLSEN is seeking to end homophobia so that no one, not another Larry, not another Brandon, will have to be victims of fear.   If there is a GLSEN chapter near you, invite them to speak in your congregations about homophobia and the work they are doing to end it in schools.  Find out how you can support their work.  I have linked their website to this post.  Blessings,       

Published in: on April 25, 2008 at 10:33 pm  Comments Off on Day of Silence  
Tags: , ,

Success

I thought this quote was correctly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson but alas, it may not be.  There are two other poems with very similar language, some things added, some things substracted.  A poem by Bessie Anderson Stanley which won a prize in 1904 and a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I sought to find another source for the the Stevenson poem and could not.   Perhaps one of our dear readers may know the correct source of this quote.  Regardless of who said it first or best, these are good words to heed.  Blessings,

Published in: on April 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm  Comments Off on Success  
Tags: ,

PFLAG

I received two emails today. Both looking for support to begin a PFLAG Chapter.  PFLAG is the Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays organization that provides support to parents and friends of sexual minorities.   It is broader than Lesbian and Gays, this organization includes bisexuals and transgender supports as well.  There are currently two PFLAG chapters in Mississippi.  One in Oxford and the other in Waveland, MS.   These are both on opposite sides of the states, north and south. 

These are life giving resources for parents of sexual minorities and for sexual minorities themselves.  I say life giving because we live in a society that is hostile to sexual minorities.  It is more so in conservative regions of the country such as Mississippi.

I came out of the closet as a gay man in CT; a state that has multiple resources for sexual minorities.  A state that also has legislated protections for people like me.   I was protected in my employment.  I was protected in my housing.  I was protected in parental rights and in adoption.  And CT is one of a few states that have civil unions ensuring partnership rights on a state level.  Mississippi does not have these rights secured for sexual minorities.  In this state it is still legal to discriminate housing and employment based on sexual identity.  Ironically, single gays and lesbians can adopt but same sex couples cannot adopt in this state.  In this state, gay fathers who divorce their wives in order to live their life with integrity can be court mandated to hide their sexuality, hide their partners from their children so as to not influence their children’s sexuality or lose visitation rights.   

In this state, homophobia is the norm.  I remember reading a news article shortly after arriving here about the KKK’s current activities in Mississippi.  The journalist writing the story made a passing remark in the story about the KKK no longer being the vile racist organization because their targets were now gays and immigrants.   The assumption was that it was understandable how the KKK could be angered about the presence of gays and immigrants.  The implied was aren’t we all? 

None of the six Unitarian Universalist congregations in Mississippi have been certified as Welcoming Congregations. This is a certification program that the UUA offers congregations desiring to learn more about homophobia and how it operates in society.   I serve two congregations in the state and have visited two additional congregations, and fortunately I have not felt any homophobia in these congregations.  All of the congregations I am personally aware of have sexual minority members.   However, having the designation would be a public sign to sexual minorities that our congregations are a save place to come and worship openly for who they are.  It is an excellent program and one I recommend for UU congregations.  Especially here in the conservative bible belt where sexual minorities are shunned because they love differently.  It is quite likely that some people coming out of conservative religious communities and into our faith communities are living with an internalized homophobia that has been taught to them.  This program is a good one to go through every so many years in a congregation to re-affirm their welcoming congregation status so that the congregation as a whole continues to grow towards justice for all.

Forming these two new PFLAG chapters is important vital work.  It is important that resources be made available so that parents, especially conservative religious parents have a place to go where they can talk about their situation in a supportive non-judgmental arena.  A place where their questions can be heard and answered, rather than judged and condemned  because something sinful happened to cause this event.  A place where they can learn the skills to help their children to live healthful and productive lives. 

I look forward to these chapters forming in Mississippi.  I know the work that PFLAG has done in other communities and the lives they have saved.  Blessings, Rev. Fred L Hammond 

 

Published in: on April 24, 2008 at 4:55 am  Comments Off on PFLAG  
Tags: , ,

Lost Tomb of Jesus 1:1600 Odds

A new article on the tomb that some have alleged belonged to Jesus and family has been published.  This story came to public light last year when Discovery Channel aired a documentary on the finding of the tomb and the possibility that the tomb belonged to Jesus, the one called Christ, who Christians claim rose from the dead. 

One of the conclusions of the increased odds for this being the tomb of Jesus is this: “What are the implications for orthodox Christians? ‘It means they should start studying what was meant by resurrection in the first century,’ Dr. Schaberg says. ‘Resurrection is not a simple thing, where the body just stands up and walks out.’ ”

Many orthodox Christians fear that this would rock the very foundation of their faith, should this find be scientifically verified as the tomb of Jesus.  But does it–really?   Does no longer having a resurrection of the physical body of Jesus dismantle to shreds the three year ministry of Jesus? 

Many Unitarian Universalists no longer believe in the resurrection of Jesus or even in an afterlife but they are deeply committed to fulfilling the radical promises of Jesus’ life.   The notion that we could somehow aspire to live life in radical opposition to institutionalized and embedded racism, economic injustice, environmental terrorism, and xenophobia is still as radical today as it was 2000 years ago when Jesus first spoke of it on the Sermon on the Mount.   

If this is the tomb of Jesus, it might mean Christians need to reframe their world view narrative.  Author Brian D. McLaren has written a recent book entitled:  Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope.  In it he proposes that the narrative of Christianity must re-focus more on the life and teachings of Jesus in order to be relevant to the global crises facing the world today.   Such a narrative makes the Christian story more accessible today.  It is not very different from the narrative that many Unitarian Universalists currently espouse. 

To transform the world, to perform acts of Tikkun Olam [the Hebrew for Heal the world] means to relate to the world in a manner that creates justice where there was no justice.  It means to strive towards creating the beloved community that Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned for America 40 years ago and for the world at large.  To seek to implement the teachings of Jesus, his life message, does not require a physically resurrected Jesus, who sits on the right hand of the father.  It never has.   Blessings,

 

Published in: on April 22, 2008 at 6:17 pm  Comments Off on Lost Tomb of Jesus 1:1600 Odds  
Tags: ,

Obama in 30 seconds

Moveon.org is sponsoring a contest for political ads for Barack Obama.  Here are some of my favorites.   I wasn’t able to figure out to post these differently but enjoy…  For other clips and to vote on your favorites go to Obamain30seconds.org.  Blessings,

http://obamain30seconds.org/vote/?v=view-2491-u5KqEL

 

http://www.obamain30seconds.org/vote/?v=view-2441-UhcnHd&linkfromdisplay=true&linktarget=_blank

http://www.obamain30seconds.org/vote/index.html?id=-6801616-.oQCUO&voted=1

http://obamain30seconds.org/vote/?v=view-2319-RD5L_u

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on April 22, 2008 at 2:43 am  Comments (1)  

Is God Punishing?

I keep running into a view of God here in Mississippi that I frankly have a hard time wrapping my head around.  It is a view that I heard in Connecticut but never so intensely.  This is the notion that God is a punishing God.  The notion that God will strike you with some punishment if you are not living right or more specifically if you are not living right according to my wishes and desires. 

Back in the early 1980’s and into the 1990’s,  a belief went across America that AIDS was a punishment from God for being Gay.  Young men were being thrown out of their congregations because they had this disease.  It was a painful experience on top of having a fatal disease.  The one place one could turn to for a message of comfort turned its back on young men who were diagnosed with AIDS.   When babies began being born with HIV/AIDS, I heard the argument that God was punishing the parents for their sins by giving them a baby with this disease.  What sort of cruel god do these people believe in that an innocent child should have to suffer for the sins of its parents?  They had to state it was the parents sins because even they could not wrap their heads around the possibility that a new born was worthy of god’s punishment.  This merely affirms the ludicrousness of their punishment argument.

In my work with people living with HIV/AIDS I spent a lot of time counseling these individuals that fear is not something God instills in people of faith.  God was not punishing them.  That image of God was an Old Testament image when people had no notion of how diseases and illnesses operated, or other forces of nature for that matter. 

Yet, this notion of a punishing God is very prevalent here in Mississippi.  I meet educated people who truly believe that their illness is a punishment from God for some alleged sin.   I meet people who believe that if they are wronged by their relatives or their friends that when something bad happens to their relatives and friends that God is punishing them for that wrong.  I’m serious. 

Now people in my circles tended to laugh when we heard the late Rev. Falwell state that the actions of gays, lesbians, feminists and the ACLU resulted in God lifting a veil of protection over America and God punishing America with the events of 9/11.   And we rolled our eyes when Rev. Haggee (friend of Senator McCain’s by the way,  since America is currently big on beliefs by association) stated that Hurricane Katrina was sent by God to clean up New Orleans of its sodomites. And not to be outdone, we have Rev. Phelps stating that soldiers dying in Iraq is God’s punishment on America for not getting rid of gays.  

But there are people who actually believe this stuff in Mississippi (and throughout the Bible belt of the South).  I have met people who actually believe that God will punish America for allowing undocumented residents to live here.  Or that God will punish America for allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children.   And when something bad happens to an undocumented resident or a gay person, that is seen as proof that God is punishing. 

I simply do not understand.  What could a person possibly do that would be so heinous as to receive the grief of a miscarriage or a terminal illness as punishment?  And why would one person receive such punishment and not another?   O I have heard the argument that god is showing his infinite mercy in the hopes that that person would see the consequences of such grievous sins committed and repent before such punishment befalls them as well.  This is pure BS.  If god is impartial in his judgment then his mercy on me over someone else doing the same sin shows favoritism not impartiality. This has been seen as proof of being among the elect of god.  God loved Jacob but hated Esau; Calvin’s predestination of the elect and all of that talk.  What it shows is that god is a capricious sob that acts more like an animal than any supreme being because the righteous, by our standards anyway, are punished by the same acts of god.   Hurricane Katrina destroyed the homes of “the wicked” and “the righteous.”  The airplanes that became bombs on 9/11 killed the righteous and the wicked.   If god was angry at gays and feminists as Rev. Falwell and Rev. Robertson claimed, then couldn’t god have been a bit more specific in his aim?   Why kill the righteous when he could have just killed the offending party? 

A member of one of my congregations once reported that someone refused to stand next to him during a thunderstorm in case god decided to strike my congregant dead.  His response was ‘where was his faith? Did he think god’s aim wasn’t good?’  Joking aside the point is made.  If god is so PO’d at the wicked, then why is he impotent on dealing with the wicked that he takes the righteous too?   I know, blasphemy. 

The notion of Universalism states that all are loved and precious in god’s sight.  All of creation is blessed and good.  We live in a world where there are natural forces.  Hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, tsunami’s, birth and death are all natural forces.  We live in an ecosytem that is interdependent for its survival.  That means that bacteria , viruses, amoebas, algae, insects, plants, fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals are dependent on each other for survival.   Remove any one of them and life on this planet is diminished or placed out of balance.  [We are beginning seeing the results of our actions towards the earth being placed out of balance.] This means that things will happen in this world.  Some things will be filled with pleasure and joy like sunshine causing rainbows after a thunderstorm.  Some things will be filled with pain and sorrow like miscarriages and HIV/AIDS.    But neither the rainbow nor the miscarriage is a result of our righteousness nor our wickedness.  They just are. 

Humankind is perhaps the only species on this earth that seeks to place meaning on events.  I think we try too hard to make sense of it all which in turn increases our pain and suffering.  My dear friend James posted a song on his blog that I think sums it all up… “Let the Mystery Be.”    Take a listen to it. Blessings. 

Published in: on April 21, 2008 at 4:16 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

Earth Day 38th anniversary

As I write this, it is almost Earth Day. I remember the first Earth Day celebration, 38 years ago. The church I attended as a teenager participated in Earth Day with an all day clean up of Orange Square, the small park across the street from the church and as I recall there were some talks held at the church on the importance of being good stewards of our planet.

Today, Earth Day is more than just cleaning up the litter that we were too lazy to place in trash receptacles. And lazy does not even acknowledge the full weight of that act; there is a strong tinge of arrogance attached to littering as well. And privilege.

Arrogance that comes from centuries of teachings that human kind was to dominate and subdue the earth to our will. Privilege in that we were the superior entities on this planet and not simply animals like the whale or the grizzly bear.

Today, we are realizing, albeit slowly, that we are not the masters of our planet. We are an interconnected, interdependent species with all of life on this planet. Our survival depends on the survival of even the smallest creature or plant. The difficulty in this realization is that our society wants instantaneous consequences. We want to see results immediately and that is not how the planet works. Slowly poisoning our eco-system takes time for it to show up in the environment. And we are even slower to realize that we had something to do with it.

Mutated frogSeveral years ago there were reports of frogs either disappearing or having increased deformities. Pictures of frogs with extra appendages or lack of appendages began to show up on the internet. Some of the frogs were sterile. It slowly dawned on people that perhaps this was the result of DDT and other pesticides and chemicals being used. The reason these effects showed up in frogs is because amphibians have a shorter life cycle than other more complex animals. They also have a skin membrane that is purposely conducive to absorption of moisture—moisture that may be contaminated with chemicals such as pesticides.

Could it possibly be that our use of chemicals are also having profound effects on our DNA as well but because our life cycle is slower it will take some time before it shows up in the human species? Or has it already appeared and we are blind to recognize it as such? Why is it that autism incidence rose 1342% since 1993? And Asperger’s Disorder has an even higher rate of incidence. It simply cannot be because we are better at diagnosing these disorders. Could our pollution habits have a connection to the rise of these and other disorders?

I am not suggesting a conspiracy theory here. I am, however, asking questions of where our arrogance to our planet has led us to. Whether we like to think so or not, we are part of the ecosystem of our planet. The only difference is we have the profound ability to impact that ecosystem and us along the way. It is time we become conscious of that impact and change our behaviors. Blessings, Rev. Fred L Hammond

Published in: on April 19, 2008 at 6:44 pm  Comments Off on Earth Day 38th anniversary  
Tags: , ,