Question By Bill McKenzie
What does your faith tradition say about healing the world?
AMY MARTIN, Executive Director, Earth Rhythms; Writer/editor, Moonlady Media
The old logic goes: It’s an eat or be eaten kind of world. Animals are wired to think only of their own survival and the human animal is the same, always has been. Commitment to anything greater than yourself, whether God, cause or community, is an illusion, because organization is always in service of domination.
New logic: Science challenges assumptions. In the last few decades a myriad of instances have been documented of animals in acts of empathy and compassion. Cooperation has long been common in the animal kingdom, even among non-pack animals, and there is no human achievement that did not take cooperation to achieve.
Evolution on all levels is the engine that drives the world. But it is not smooth and forever ascending. It is circuitous and uneven, rolling like a sine wave, spiraling downward and spiraling up, with incremental progress as well as grand leaps. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress. It’s also a cha cha.
Yet in the smallness of our lives it’s hard to perceive the epic human process of which we are entwined. Part of us that yearns for clarity and definition and can find attractive the end-time apocalyptic scenario that restores order. Yet ambiguity is a pervasive theme here on planet Earth.
At any time in any society, at any time in any individual, there are base urges mixed with altruistic ideals. What flourishes is what we feed. Compassion and cooperation is our destiny if that is what we choose. Healing is in making that choice. All else will follow.
Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote last week about Chanukah, describing it as “the holiday celebrating the triumph of hope over fear, light over darkness, the powerless over the powerful.”
He went on to say that Chanukah is about “understanding that when we connect with the transformative power of the universe, the Force of Healing and Transformation, YHVH, we become aware that the powerless can become powerful, that oppression of any sort is in contradiction to the fundamental nature of human beings as loving, kind, generous, free, creative, intelligent, attuned to beauty, caring for and needing each other beings created in the image of God. When that energy and awareness permeates our consciousness, no ruling elite and no system of exploitation can possibly last for very long.”
Of course, this also is the month when Christians will hear much about bringing joy to the world, peace on earth and goodwill to all.
But is that so? Is it really possible to heal the world?
Some whose theology predicts an end-times see the world as marching from bad to worse, with God intervening at the end. Others hold to a theology that sees them as being used by God to bring his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Still others are neither so fatalistic nor optimistic.