Updated: Jan 8
The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.
We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety, a hundred years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives.
- Dalai Lama
Many of the First People of the Americas treated life and death much differently than European immigrants, sharing much knowledge with those in Africa and Asia. For the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfeet), death is tied to life. Ihtsi-pai-tapi-yopa (the Creator) made all living things equal. Humans are not seen as better than the plants and animals we hunt and harvest to survive, but just another being living in harmony. When life ends, the body is returned to nature, not preserved with toxic chemicals. It then feeds other living things; in the same way they nourished us in life. The energy of life lives on, even after death. For centuries, the wisdom of so many peoples around the globe have been ignored.
We must seek change, or the Earth will expel humans from the planet. This is no longer a hypothetical - but a certainty found in the waves of harmful weather striking locations around the world and pandemics that will continue to take lives. Yet, we seem resigned to our fate, rather than learning to be better, to become better.
Becoming something new is not just work for individuals but work for all of humanity. We must become better stewards of resources, or we write our own extinction. We need to redefine what it means to be successful. Is success always wealth, or is success something that comes through our commitments to live lives of compassion and care for each other and the planet?
Maya Angelou reminds us, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." To survive we must do better.
This does not mean innovation or creativity has no place in our lives. Humans invented things like fracking, which is destructive to our earthly home. Just imagine what we could do if we centered that same energy on finding ways to transform waste into energy, or to use less water.
We also must never give up this fight, this push to change ourselves and how we treat the world. When humans become unwilling to learn new things, to try new ways, they lose their ability to thrive. Fear has no place in learning to be better, and even small steps forward are better than no steps.
Some will dismiss these commitments as politics, but this is one issue that must unite the people of the world - not divide them. Caring for the planet is an ethical commitment.
As you consider the world this week, and in the coming year, take small steps to do better, to be better. Maybe it begins with recycling more, or carrying your own bags to the grocery store, or eating foods grown within 100 miles of your home.
Humanity sent man to the moon. We invented vaccines. We have the capacity to change and to become something better. That is the true path to peace, love, happiness, joy, and enlightenment - not extravagant wealth.
Which path will you choose to follow?
written for UU Santa Fe's blog