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We need a new activism.
One that connects our deepest spiritual traditions with our current urgent environmental need.
If we are to save the world, not to mention the quality of life in it, we will have to create something new yet familiar. Something bold and powerful but also simple and innocent.
If you listen, this is currently being birthed.
Being raised going to church, the Sabbath was something commonly spoken of, even if not fully lived. The Divine created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, therefore we should, too.
Don’t get me wrong: I love days of rest. However, let’s be honest: we (unfortunately) don’t truly take days to rest into ourselves, let alone God. Our days off are typically spent consuming even more than we do when working and we are still glued to our devices, all of which run on electricity and distract us from being present.
Could it be that we have lost sight of what the Sabbath is for? What if the state of the world and the environment is because of too simple of an understanding of what the Sabbath was intended to accomplish? What if we missed something simply because we didn’t have all of the pieces yet?
Well, now we do.
Cause for Reflection
In the last three to four months across the world, we have witnessed something truly remarkable happen, something that none of us could have dreamed would actually occur: we saw humanity slow down.
Most of our rushing, our busy-ness, our travel, and, coincidentally, a vast majority of our polluting came to a near-complete halt. As a result, we witnessed the earth heal in a way we had long dreamed of yet never gave the opportunity to actually do.
From Moscow to Milan and Los Angeles to London, we saw skylines worldwide be cleared of smog and pollution. The Himalayas became visible again in Northern India, while reports of increased visibility of many mountains came in from across the globe. We’ve heard the melodious sounds of birds and nature with greater amplitude because of the stillness we’ve revealed under our never-ending noise. We now know beyond a doubt that our ancient traditions and modern science share one very important truth: namely that the world mirrors us directly and the earth can heal if we just give it the opportunity to.
The Disease is “Go;” the Cure is “Stop”
What if all along this wisdom was embedded in a deeper sense of our spiritual traditions than we could have known? You see, we have now been exposed to our power to facilitate comprehensive healing in the world. We have witnessed the exposing of the truth that the Sabbath is not only for us but also for the earth.
The earth needs us to stop, and it needs us to do this regularly and with a great reverence rooted in our love for all life. (In the Bible, in Leviticus 25, it even says we should fully stop every seventh year so that the land itself can have a year of rest.)
The New Sabbath: Not Just for the Religious Anymore
I propose that people of all walks of life and of every creed join together in remembering the sacredness of life on this planet—and that we do this weekly. It is time for the religious and the non-believer alike to finally acknowledge that we walk on, and live from, the same earth.
We speak at great lengths of the need to preserve and protect the environment, even as our consumption of its resources carelessly continues. We know that talk is cheap; however, action rooted in reverence and prayer is one of life’s greatest riches.
Imagine the power of our collective action if we held one day a week as sacred and took this day to intentionally stop. Not only would the earth be able to regularly heal, but we as a people would realize our shared humanity once again as we work toward a common goal. Sharing such a practice would greatly help to cultivate our highest potential for peace around the world.
I invite you to join me on this shared day when we can honor the earth. Perhaps you can do it weekly, or maybe once a month is where you begin—but the important part is that you begin and that we begin together.
A few ways we can considering unplugging for ourselves and the earth on these days:
>> No use of a gas or electric-powered vehicle of any kind—instead, only walk and/or ride your bike.
>> No use of screens, meaning no phones (or social media), computers, tablets, or TV. (Of course, one can have the phone on in case of emergency; however, on this day we free ourselves from being enslaved by our technology and the burden it brings to the earth.)
>> In general, avoid the use of electricity whenever possible.
One can unplug to the level that is convenient for oneself and give that action as an offering to the earth and to God. By partaking in these actions, not only will we greatly benefit the earth, but we will also benefit ourselves.
Our lives would positively change by:
>> Having less stress as we unplug. Much of our stress is caused by an unsustainable level of multi-tasking and a feeling of urgency induced by electronics.
>> Being more present with friends and family. Our social connections will benefit as we heighten a sense of creativity and presence between ourselves and the ones we love the most.
>> Getting more exercise as we walk or ride bikes more.
>> Reconnecting with nature and allowing her peace and natural rhythms to bring us home again.
>> Experiencing increased levels of health by living in a healthier and cleaner world.
We will slowly remember what it is like to not be continuously distracted. We will spend time focusing on our goals, our friends, our family, or simply being present in nature. We will spend time cultivating our highest virtues instead of our greatest flaws.
Let us begin something new together. Let us cultivate our deepest truths and desires together and birth a new spiritual activism.