The Air We Breathe

By Willard Metzger

What causes you to register concern? What are the necessary conditions to propel you to action?

People of faith purport to be motivated by altruistic instincts, where a concern for the other initiates action. This truly is a shared value of faith. The teaching of Jesus instructs us to love others. Indeed, Scripture permeates with the call to love.

I do not dispute this value. I celebrate it. However, I do wish to probe the legitimacy of communities of faith in their manifestation of this value.

This summer has challenged us. Raging forest fires have alarmed communities across the country. Deterioration of air quality has affected everyone. I grieve the horrendous loss caused by these fires. Yet, I am thankful for the collective concern that has been generated as a result. I am heartened to witness a groundswell of people expressing the need for climate action.

I celebrate this increased awareness and concern. Yet, I mourn that this concern has not been embraced more fully prior to the summer of fires. People concerned with the care of the earth have been sounding the alarm for years. Youth and students have led protests calling for climate action well before the flaming forests demanded attention. Yet, society has been hesitant and reluctant to heed the concerns. Religious communities were tentative in adopting a call to action, cautious not to offend those in the fossil fuel industry.

Humanity seems prone to self-focus. Personal impact determines individual action rather than a commitment to the common good. That is why I am grateful for a faith that calls for actions of solidarity in areas of hardship. A healthy society needs the contribution of a robust faith perspective. Like the rest of creation, we are all interconnected. We all breathe the same air. When it is filled with smoke, it becomes impossible to ignore.

Caring for creation should be a natural activity for faith communities. It is an expression of honour and worship for the creator. It is an act of love and solidarity for the neighbour. To approach this activity with caution is only tentatively committing to sacred worship. God deserves enthusiastic worship and passionate devotion. To disregard creation while singing praises to Creator is a dishonouring sacrilege.

We love God, so we care for the earth. We care for the earth because we love God. I celebrate the day when people of faith will lead in this worship. When the earth is restored to health, God is glorified. When the love of neighbour is manifested, God is honoured. This is the worship God is pleased to receive. This summer, the smouldering of the earth has connected us across political boundaries. I pray that this joint experience will spur a new collective consciousness and spark a sacred worship. A worship that both brings pleasure to God and to that which God has created with love. May this be the flame that impacts us and fills the common air we breathe.

2 thoughts on “The Air We Breathe”

  1. I appreciate your reflection. Thank you!
    I think there is a typo in the second last sentence: I pray that this joint experience will spurn a new collective consciousness and spark a sacred worship. – “spurn” should be “spur”


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