The Wisdom Within

The late Canadian-American anthropologist, Anthony Wallace, posited the idea that we are living in a “Revitalization Moment”. He said there were four distinct stages to this moment: Stage One – serious individual stress; Stage Two- alienation everywhere; Stage Three – people agree there is a problem, but not how to cope with it; and Stage Four – the emergence of a new worldview and the restructuring of old institutions to enable it.

As we look at our society today we see evidence everywhere of stages one and two from individual loners engaging in terrorist attacks to rhetoric promoting violence and hatred leading to a resurgence of hate groups (anti-Islam, anti-black, anti-immigrant, etc.). Most people agree there is a problem, as stage three indicates, but not how to cope with it. And so we find ourselves increasingly polarized within nations as well as between and among nations. Increasingly hostile words are exchanged leading to armed conflict. We hear that more money is needed for security; more and more powerful weapons must be developed; a higher wall must be built. Yet history has taught us that more weapons do not lead to peace. In the words of the late General Omar Bradley, “We live in a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants, in a world that has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. We have solved the mystery of the atom and forgotten the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about dying than we know about living.” 

It is easy to just give up; to say “there is nothing I can do.” But then there is stage four. Stage four challenges us to recognize that each of us has a role to play in creating the emergence of a new worldview. Critical to this new view is the realization that “everything is connected”. Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon clearly stated this: “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth…these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”  Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si” reminds us that “Everything is related and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.”

This new worldview, which can and must restructure old institutions to enable it, must flow from deep within each of us. None of us can bring about this new worldview alone, but each of us has a role to play. The first step is to pray for the wisdom to see that everything is connected. When this realization touches your core, it does not matter where you start. What is your passion? How are you living out of that passion? What organizations do you belong to that need restructuring? How can you be a voice for change? How can you work with others whose passions may differ from your own but whose lives are also an integral part of the whole? What steps will you take to become a strong and colorful thread in the tapestry of creation?

All real change begins from within. The following Native American tale helps us to see this so clearly: Long ago, before anyone can remember, people lived in harmony with each other and will all of God’s creation. Gradually, however, they separated themselves from the oneness that they knew. The elders became greatly concerned that the people no longer lived as the Great Spirit intended so decided to take away the gift of harmony until such a time as the people were ready for it.

They gathered up the wisdom and met in council to decide where to hide it until the time the people would be ready to receive it. One of the elders suggested they hide it in a deep cavern located in a series of caves. But others said that the people often went where they did not belong and surely someone would find it before it was time for its return. Another suggested dropping it into the bottom of a lake that was so deep no one even knew where the bottom was. At first, they thought this might be the answer, but then another elder said, “No, these people fish and surely one of them will hook it and bring it up before it is time.”

Now the elders were becoming greatly frustrated. They felt so keenly the responsibility to safeguard the wisdom the Great Spirit had given them but did not know where to hide it. Then a small voice spoke up. It was the eldest woman of the clan and she said, “Let’s hide it inside of them. They will never think to look there.” And they all knew they had their answer.

That wisdom resides in each of us. May this New Year gives us the courage to take the time to look within to find that wisdom and to share our piece with the millions of others throughout the world who are also longing for peace and harmony.

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Celebrate an Earth-Friendly Christmas

Christmas is a time of great joy; a time to gather with family and friends and celebrate the birth of Jesus and to remember that God is always present among us. The preparations often involve running from place to place to buy gifts, writing out Christmas cards, decorating the house and a million other last-minute preparations for the holidays.

This year think about celebrating an earth-friendly Christmas. Here are a few ideas:

Earth-friendly gift-giving ideas

  • Shop locally. Support local craft persons and artisans;
  • Buy gifts made of recycled materials;
  • Make your own gifts;
  • Have a white elephant gift exchange: everyone gives a gift they find around the house without spending any money;
  • Buy fair trade items; a few good sources:

Make your own Christmas cards

The following sites provide excellent ideas:

Spend an evening making Christmas ornaments with the family

Make a Christmas wreath

Bake Christmas cookies

Give a donation in someone’s name as a gift

A few ideas:

Most important of all take time to prepare yourself.

The following are some youtube sites for personal reflection and prayer:

A reflection on the names of Jesus

This Christmas could be different

Relaxing Christmas music:

A few quotes for reflection:

“Incarnation names and celebrates the embodiment of God in the whole of creation.”

– Diarmuid O’Murchu

“God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If he gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.”

– Pope Francis

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” –Alexander Smith

All of us here at EarthConnection wish you and your families a very blessed, joyous and peace-filled Christmas season. May the Miracle of Christmas fill your lives now and always.

Sr. Winnie Brubach, SC – Facilities Coordinator
Sue DiTullio – Administrative Assistant
Sr. Caroljean Willie, SC – Program Director

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What Is the Mission of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?

Many people are unaware of the critical role that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has played in safeguarding the natural environment and protecting the health of U.S. citizens since it was founded on December 2, 1970, under the administration of President Richard Nixon.

The following is a brief overview of the work of the EPA.

The EPA’s purpose is to ensure that:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
  • all parts of society — communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments — have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
  • the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

In addition to the above, the EPA

  • develops and enforces regulations when Congress writes an environmental law;
  • uses nearly half of its budget for grants to state environmental programs, non-profits, educational institutions, and others. This money is used for a wide variety of projects from scientific studies to community cleanups;
  • works with laboratories throughout the nation to identify and try to solve environmental problems;
  • shares information with other countries, private sector organizations, academic institutions and other agencies;
  • works with businesses, non-profit organizations, and state and local governments through dozens of partnerships. A few examples include conserving water and energy, minimizing greenhouse gases, re-using solid waste, and getting a handle on pesticide risks;
  • teaches people about environmental issues such as reducing energy use, reusing materials and recycling.

Some (by no means all) of the EPAs accomplishments include the following:

  • launching the Energy Star program, a voluntary program that fosters energy efficiency;
  • initiating an oil spill prevention program including Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) and the Facility Response Plan (FRP) rules
  • regulating auto emissions;
  • ensuring safe drinking water for the public, by setting standards for more than 160,000 public water systems nationwide;
  • implementing the National Environmental Education Act requiring the EPA to provide national leadership to increase environmental literacy
  • implementing the clean air act;
  • banning the use of DDT;
  • cleaning up toxic waste;
  • protecting the ozone layer
  • increasing recycling and revitalizing inner-city brownfields;
  • protecting national parks and their resources.

Among the challenges facing the U.S. today are the following:

  • Meeting health-based standards for common air pollutants;
  • Limiting climate change;
  • Reducing risks from toxic air pollutants;
  • Protecting the stratospheric ozone layer against degradation;

On August 3, 2015, President Obama and EPA announced the Clean Power Plan – a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change. Shaped by years of unprecedented outreach and public engagement, the final Clean Power Plan is fair, flexible and designed to strengthen the fast-growing trend toward cleaner and lower-polluting American energy. With strong but achievable standards for power plants, and customized goals for states to cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, the Clean Power Plan provides national consistency, accountability, and a level playing field while reflecting each state’s energy mix. It also shows the world that the United States is committed to leading global efforts to address climate change.

It is critical that the EPA be allowed to continue its critical role in safeguarding U.S. citizens, but also in maintaining its crucial role as a world leader in the field of environmental sustainability. In the proposed budget from the current administration, funding for the EPA is being slashed. If this is of concern to you, write or call your Congressional Representatives in DC. Ask them to reject any budget proposals or legislation that would prevent the EPA from doing its job of protecting clean water, clean air and the public health of all US citizens. Remind them that it’s their responsibility to ensure that the EPA is empowered – through adequate funding, staffing, and authority – to continue to meet its mission and remain a world leader.  

In his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis reminds us that “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”… and that “environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces.”

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