Ranger and I both engage now with Grandmother Oak. While Darryl take aim at the giant air plants with his camera, we talk with Grandmother. We are praising Pope Francis for his encyclical on climate justice.
Ranger: “Why in the world would you be talking about what the Pope is saying? What do you care?”
Grandmother Oak: “Because if and when this ship turns around it will be because most people need to be led into another way of thinking. Today the Pope speaks for all of us regarding climate and our response to it. Climate justice is more than just believing that humans are causing it and accepting the truth of that matter. The reasons for changing our behaviors have to be spiritual. I believe the poor are entitled to pure air and water, and also be able to access fresh food. You all live in air conditioned comfort and have a water filter on your fridge, but you must contribute in a substantive way to make those things available to everyone on Earth. By the way, I spend all of my life in active respiration, providing life-giving oxygen back, so I put my money where my mouth is. ”
Me: “I need to vent just a bit here. I think it’s high time the Pope, and all other religious leaders, make restitution for the fact that Christianity bears an immense burden of guilt for the present ecological crisis. Religious leaders have highjacked the teachings of Jesus and turned them over to a cultural cabal starting with the reign of Augustine back in Rome. When it was rolled out, especially in America, the teachings didn’t reflect Jesus at all. They reflected a culture intent on private acquisition of wealth and democracy by trickle-down economics, which said, basically that if the rich prosper on Earth, that’s what they deserve for being so responsible, and the poor can only hope to win the lottery, work as hard as the rich had to work to get what they got, or wait for heaven to rescue them from their miserable lives. Earth is to be used in this temporary situation for that all to happen. The culture created by Americans views the natural word as one of utility.. an object to satisfy intellectual curiosity or to allow the clever or lucky to accumulate the most toys.”
Ranger: “Do you want to be this harsh?”
Me: “Yes, I do! After nearly 400 years of the American experience, we still have a beautiful and abundant land, but a land of roads and cars and grimy cities, a land of acid rains, polluted rivers and endangered species…. the American experience is one of terrifying assault of on the natural world. And religious leaders typically only remind us that redemption is close at hand. That is why Grandmother Oak and I think the Pope is saying and doing the right thing. Other religious leaders (and politicians!) now need to follow his courageous lead.”
Me: (continuing) “Just let me spout off a bit more! What this has made us into is a consumer economy! Oh my, did you see the paper this morning, with the half pound of paper advertisements? Do people actually read that stuff? Do people really want to line up to be the first customers in the new store at the mall? Apparently. Gees! That’s what the pope is talking about. We all need to back off. We must put others first, spend more time talking to Grandmother Oak, and stop consuming so much.”
Grandmother Oak: “Thank you. I am just doing what comes naturally, you know. Now it’s up to all of you to find your own ways to be in Earth as respectful participants in nature. I encourage you all to use your cameras, your brains, your resources to get that done.”