Ever since Earth Day 1970 there has been growing awareness of the impending doom that is threatening human, animal, and perhaps all forms of life on this planet: climate change. Environmental science confirms the realness of this threat, and our daily observations do as well. Crisis is imminent unless humanity charts a new direction.
Sadly, the more people learn about the environment, the more frozen most of us are in despair and depression. To some extent this may be a product of our being embedded in the psycho-spiritual despair that the planet itself, long understood to be a living organism, may be experiencing. In other words, as embodied beings made of matter and spirit, we are inevitably connected to the energy and pulse of the planet, and as it suffers, we experience that suffering ourselves.
But to a greater extent our despair results from being part of a class society in which the powerful 1 percent is not willing to sacrifice its extreme wealth in order to make the drastic economic and political changes necessary to address the urgency of the problem. Our despair also stems from the fragmentation of the environmental movement, which has become torn between liberal accommodationists, whose organizations are funded by the 1 percent and who focus on minor environmental advances, and radical localists, who have given up on fundamental social transformation and are instead trying to build local projects in which people live more fully in harmony with nature. We feel despair when we realize that even the few hyper-local projects that succeed in reducing local communities’ reliance on global markets have little chance of challenging the fundamentals of the big picture that is threatening the life support system of the planet.
Tikkun’s focus, by way of contrast, is to recognize that the destruction of the planet’s life support system is the consequence of our economic system’s dependence on an ever-expanding consumer market fueled by goods produced by unceasing exploitation of the planet’s resources.
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