A more spiritual worldview may help us heal the planet.
Hope is a precious commodity these days, when so many things deserve holy outrage. I am not cynical; there is a sliver of hope in me. Maybe it’s more than a sliver—hope always seems to grow when I actually pay attention to it. My hope comes not from environmental science and activism but from the world of Earth-centered spiritual traditions, old and new.
As a religious educator, I’m inspired by the youth I work with. Their concerns about the environment feel more urgent and personal than mine were when I was their age—their perception of imminent doom visceral. The sense of humanity’s responsibility to the earth they describe to me seems to echo an openness to a different spiritual worldview, an older one that says that the earth doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the earth. If we belong to the earth, then we also belong to each other and to every other being and form of life upon it. If we belong to the earth, she becomes a living entity to us, and in doing so, regains a sense of power and agency in our minds.