Our communities are crying out for healing, whether family, society or planetary. The pandemic is showing us the need for universal health care. The Black Lives Matter movement is showing us that we should finally heal the systemic racism in our nation since its founding. The Climate Crisis is showing us that we must heal our civilization’s dependence on fossil fuels because we are driving towards the cliff of mass extinction.
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year. It is the struggle of a lifetime.” – John Lewis
Thich Nhat Hanh, the monk who helped popularize mindfulness in the West, died in the Từ Hiếu temple in Huế, Vietnam, on Jan. 22, 2022. He was 95.
In 2014, Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a stroke. After that, he was unable to speak or continue his teaching. In October 2018, he expressed his wish, using gestures, to return to the temple in Vietnam where he had been ordained as a young monk. Devotees from many parts of the world continued to visit him at the temple.
As a scholar of the contemporary practices of Buddhist meditation, I have studied his simple yet profound teachings, which combine mindfulness with social change, and which I believe will continue to have an impact around the world.
The climate crisis is not an isolated issue — it involves every part of our economy and society. Because of that, each Friday demonstration will have a different focus as it relates to climate. Scientists, movement leaders, experts, activists, Indigenous leaders, community members and youth will come together to share their stories and demand that action be taken before it’s too late. To ensure the topic and its connection to the climate crisis is thoroughly explained, I will host a live-streamed “Teach-In” with a panel of experts each Thursday evening before the demonstration, for the public to attend virtually.
We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last to be able to do anything about it.
Scientists around the world are unequivocal about the urgency of the climate crisis. Yet despite vast scientific evidence and immeasurable harm from climate disruption, efforts to address the climate crisis have been woefully inadequate. The threat to humans and all life systems continues to grow rapidly.
While the Industrial Revolution improved life on earth for billions of people, that progress has come with grave threats to all of humanity.
Historic power imbalances intensify the harms, with those least responsible for climate change being the most impacted and possessing the least resources to adapt. Vulnerable communities, including indigenous communities, communities of color, poor people, elderly people, women, youth, immigrants, people with disabilities, the global south, and others who have been systematically marginalized, are frequently excluded from mainstream climate debate and from subsequent development of policies, mitigations and adaptation measures.
From Yes! Magazine.
The long march of hierarchical and colonial history has led us to this moment of awareness. We are learning that the melting glaciers, coronavirus pandemic, species extinctions, racial and income inequality, political turmoil, and other heart-wrenching events are symptoms of a global social-governmental-economic system that is consuming itself into extinction. This is what I call the Death Economy that defines success as the maximization of short-term profits for corporations and short-term accumulation of material things for individuals, regardless of the environmental and social costs.
If enough of us confront our fear of change, this Death Economy could be transformed into one that cleans up pollution, regenerates destroyed environments, and creates technologies that do not ravage the environment—a living economy, a Life Economy. We will either change our ideas, values, and actions and accept new ways of relating to other people, resources, countries, governments, and cultures, or we will propel ourselves into extinction—or something unimaginably close to extinction.