At last week's annual Table of Faiths luncheon in suburban Kansas City, the theme was what religions say and do about protecting Earth's environment.
One of the main speakers was Dr. Syed E. Hasan (pictured here), who teaches environmental science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. It was good to hear a Muslim's perspective on this subject, especially one with academic training in the field.
Here is what Hasan said about the theme of the luncheon: Spirituality and the Environment, with the sub-theme of Caring for the Earth, Our Legacy.
could be a better time and venue to discuss this critical issue? Increasing (the) level of carbon dioxide over the
past 200 years has raised earth’s temperature that has triggered global climate
change. The Superstorm Sandy that hit
the eastern seaboard during the last days of October is a stark reminder of
what lies ahead. This disruption of earth’s water cycle is bound to result in
extreme weather events that will occur more frequently and with greater
convinced that the current state of earth’s environment is a direct result of
the large-scale and careless exploitation of the earth and its resources that
are used to run the industries owned by large corporations. And despite the
fact that they utilize the resources of the earth, they consider themselves to
be more accountable to their shareholders than to the environment. The horrible stories of how industrial pollution
has destroyed the ecosystem and adversely impacted people’s life all over the
planet are too well known.
All religions require (their) followers to treat earth with respect and care. Our scriptures remind us time and time again that we are not the owner or master of the earth, but only its guardian and caretaker.
In my view, human civilization has now arrived at a juncture where we find our precious earth threatened with serious degradation of its environment to the point that we, the most privileged among God’s creations, have to make some hard decisions in order to assure not only our own survival but of all living and non-living components of the earth, to which we are inextricably connected.
Earth is the only suitable habitat we have and there is no other place to go if it becomes unsustainable. So, how can we assure a healthy, livable planet for our future generations? It won’t be easy; certainly, doing business as usual will not work. What we need to do is to introduce the missing elements of ethics and spirituality in the existing socio-economic order, which is based solely on profit and growth and has sadly permeated every aspect of our society, be it the corporation, business, finance, media, or the government.
Of all creations of God, humans have been endowed with the unique faculty of intellect and reason and it is our moral obligation to use this God-given gift to devise a new philosophy of life based on spirituality and ethical values that will allow us to leave behind the legacy of a sustainable planet for our future generations.
After the luncheon we all got in our private cars and drove home or back to work because there is essentially no public transportation to and from the Marriott Hotel in Overland Park, Kan. Sigh.
(By the way, I'm glad Kansas City has a mayor committed to good interfaith relations. Sly James (pictured here) also spoke at the Table of Faiths luncheon after receiving the Steve Jeffers Interfaith Leadership Award for all the work he does in this area. And his message, as usual, was simple and on target: "We've been too focused on the differences. Somehow that's plain old stupid, and we need to stop being stupid.")
* * *
BOYS WILL BE BOYS
OK, I admit I'm often tempted -- and sometimes I even succumb -- to quote televangelist Pat Robertson because he's so, well, bizarre. Perhaps I'm tempted as often as our top military generals are tempted by pretty women. At any rate, here's Robertson excusing Gen. David Patraeus for having an affair: He encountered "an extremely good looking woman" and "he's a man." Oh, Pat Robertson, I wish I could quit you.
* * *
P.S.: Given the fact that some people of faith are convinced that Earth is only a few thousand years old, their view of the universe gets equally bizarre, along with their predictions about the impending end of the world. Here's a corrective: How about attending the next general meeting (free and open to the public) of the Astronomical Society of Kansas City, to be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24, at UMKC. Details can be found here. The speaker that evening will be Dr. Charles Don Geilker, emeritus professor of physics at William Jewell College. He'll be talking about the now-famous Mayan calendars, one of which some people think predicts the end of the world next month. And while you're on the society's website, take a look at the spring-to-fall opportunities (you'll have to wait until next year) to visit the Powell Observatory south of Kansas City to learn more about the makeup of the cosmos.
* * *ANOTHER P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it, click here.