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Hurricane Harvey: A Wake-up Call



"Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We hold in prayer and support our fellow citizens in Houston, Texas as they navigate the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Harvey.

Hurricanes and storms have always been natural to the ecosystem. When I was growing up in Miami, Florida they were considered part of life. However, because of the sustained irreverence humanity has shown toward our environment, natural storms, hurricanes and weather patterns have reached another level of intensity and destruction.

This has been predicted by reputable climatologists for quite some time. Columbia University professor James Edward Hansen, in his 1988 Congressional testimony, raised awareness of the coming dangers of climate change. Hurricane Harvey is just the type of weird weather scientists anticipated. It is a storm that normally would weaken, but didn’t. It is a phenomenon that would happen once every 100 years. Unless there is an intention to reduce the human contribution to climate change, scientists predict such events will take place with increasing regularity in the form of extreme temperatures, snowfalls and droughts across the planet, as well as hurricanes.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that human irreverence to the environment has contributed to the intensity of the weather we experience, a representative of the country’s current executive branch recently stated that the administration would not be addressing the human role in climate change. The reason? She claimed there is little or no correlation between human activities and the intensity of the storms such as Harvey. This despite the fact that 97% of reputable scientists have concluded that, not only is climate change real, but human beings contribute to its existence.

The real reason for not taking action lies in something deeper and, from a spiritual perspective, more troubling. We have made materialism and strict economic gain more important than spiritual and humanitarian values. This is what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was speaking about in the above statement taken from his 1964 Nobel Lecture in Oslo, Norway. Dr. King was reminding us that, if we make short-term economic gain the primary object of our existence, we do so at the expense of the long-term wellbeing of humanity.

To reverse this trend, we must have a revolution in values. This means we no longer prioritize strict economic gain over spiritual law. When we put materialism over humanitarian concerns, we end up getting rid of necessary regulations that help protect the environment, as well as people. Advocates of such action claim that such regulations are anti-business and hinder “the bottom line.” However, in many instances, such short sightedness imperils the long-term health of our planet.

We live in a universe of cause and effect. This law not only applies to us individually, but collectively. The environment can only take so much abuse. Of course, the Earth is not going anywhere. It will get fed up, self-correct, take a gigantic burp and we’ll be gone. The planet will still be here.

Taking care of our environment must be a main priority of our time. This is not to say that there are no other issues for us to address. God knows we’ve got many things to deal with. But if we don’t address how we treat our planet, we may not get the chance to deal with the other challenges that confront us. It’s an issue that affects all of us.

Pope Francis noted that protecting the environment is a moral and spiritual issue. We’re all in this together, and if there is any issue that cries out our oneness and interconnectedness with our planet and each other, it is this.

People all over the country have rallied to aid those who have suffered as a result of Hurricane Harvey. The support and cooperation has been emotionally touching. The unprecedented flooding has led to an unprecedented response of the compassionate human spirit that we all possess.

It’s time to apply that same consciousness of compassion to our planet.

Peace and Blessings,

James

#MartinLutherKingJr #climatechange

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