There is so much to distract us from the burning issues of the day. Whether we are caught up in the ongoing political chaos or whether we allow the private lives of celebrities to entertain us, the outcome is the same: we have lost control both of our critical thinking skills and of our problem-solving abilities. Instead, we are drugged by the lives of the rich, the famous and the outrageous, and we fail to see that which is happening right under our eyes-- the melting of Antarctica, for example, where temperatures in the 70's F have resulted in further ice loss.
If our eyes were open, we would begin to understand how the melting of the ice caps and the breaking up of Greenland threaten all life forms -- humans, included. Last year, for example, on August 1st, Greenland lost 12.5 billion tons of ice in a single day. Such ice-melts will warm the planet, raise sea-levels and cause havoc to eco-systems, causing species to become extinct. For most people, however, global warming is only a matter of concern if they have been directly affected by changing weather patterns and if they recognize that human behavior is the cause of many natural disasters.
Regardless of our political views, we need to come together to demand that our leaders make saving the planet their top priority. We are all inter-connected and what happens in Antarctica, in Greenland, in Puerto Rico, in Indonesia, in Queensland and wherever else there are extreme weather conditions affects all of us.
Ultimately, global warming is not a political issue but a spiritual issue; to ignore it is a crime against humanity.
If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; God has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before you are life and death, good and evil,
whichever you choose shall be given to you.
Sir 15: 15-20
Both fire and water are necessary for life: the first humans built their settlements near water, relying on fire not only to ward off wild animals, but to provide warmth, fuel for cooking and a place to gather for shared storytelling. They understood the value of both elements.Water sustains life; fire sustains community. Both are necessary yet both can be destructive. Floods, hurricanes and tsunamis can wipe out coastal areas, while fires can burn through natural habitats and human habitats alike, respecting neither creatures nor property. On the other hand, both fire and water have symbolic significance: both are associated with cleansing, with rituals of initiation and with the forgiveness of sins. Spiritually speaking, we have to go through fire to be stripped of all ego attachments. God cleanses us like a refiner purifying precious metal (Mal 3:2-3), forming us into God's people (Zech 13:9); similarly, we die to self in the waters of baptism, when we are baptized into the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Rom 6:4-6). Scripture then, points to fire and water in both their life-giving and destructive capacities.
In our first reading, Sirach invites us to stretch out our hands to either fire or water. Each can represent life and each can represent death; each can represent good and each can represent evil. Neither element is intrinsically good or bad. The ultimate question is are we choosing that which is life-giving or that which is death-dealing? What aspect of fire fascinates us and what characteristic of water beckons us? Are we choosing God's Law or lawlessness? Are we drawn to the path of Light and Truth or are we lured by the glamour of Evil?
Are we even conscious about what we're choosing?
On a daily basis we make choices that are life-giving or death dealing. We choose whether to eat in moderation or eat in excess, whether to indulge our addictions or to "stay on the wagon," whether to forgive others or harbor hatred, whether to be peacemakers or resort to violence, whether to use our gifts or bury our talents, whether to love or whether to close our hearts, whether to pray or whether to deify ourselves ...
Each choice that we make brings us closer to God or separates us from the Holy One; each choice can harm or heal us and do the same to those we encounter along the way. Our choices have ramifications: they can burn or they can restore, they can lay waste, or they can re-build.
What will we choose?