Today, many of you will remember to celebrate me, learning or teaching your children about the importance of reducing waste and recycling, conserving energy, or keeping my land, air, and water clean. I truly appreciate the efforts you make for a struggling old lady for whom such acts of consideration bring rays of hope. As you know, my health has been deteriorating rapidly of late, and I struggle to care for all 7 billion of you as I would like. I long to give you sweet, fresh air to breathe, clean water for drinking and bathing, fertile soil for growing food, majestic mountains to revitalize your souls, and much, much more. But I am not the girl I used to be, and much of what I had to give in my youth has been spent faster than I ever could have imagined. So please accept this letter as an expression of my affection; I wish I had more to give.
I am reaching out to you, my children, because I know you love me and I know you need me. Some of you try hard to care for me and nurse me back to health. I value all of your efforts. But there is something I need from all of you that is far too often overlooked when it comes to the care I need to survive. For the truth is, I am dying. Your Father cares for me but has also entrusted me to your care, and thus my hope for a future lies in you. So I am pleading with you, my children, to remember me and remember our need for each other. And I have an urgent request of all of you that could perhaps do more to revitalize my health than anything else you could do, though I rarely hear it mentioned:
Stop killing each other!
The spilled blood of your brothers and sisters has poisoned me since the beginning of civilization, and I have choked on my tears mourning the bodies returned to me before their time. While you seek security from one another rather than with and for one another, you run rampant over me. You take me for granted and abuse the abundant gifts meant to sustain and nurture you, hoarding some and using others to destroy rather than help and heal one another. While you are wrapped up in your sibling rivalries, you forget your familial bonds. Your Father suffers with you and at your hands, and so do I. You who were born from my womb forget that I also bore your brothers and sisters across the world and across the street. Instead of taking refuge in me, you exploit me and lay me to waste, all to protect yourselves against my other children, your sisters and brothers. As you make war and preparations for war, you destroy your security with the erosion of trust and soil. I implore you, my children, please stop.
My forests once provided you with sanctuary from the elements. My fields once provided you with rich soil to cultivate your crops. Now cancers and famines consume some of you and lurk just around the corner for others, and you fail to see how your violent animosity toward each other feeds these vultures that destroy you! Bombs, land mines, and chemical weapons you use to kill your brothers and sisters instantly are slowly killing you too by ripping me apart and rendering me unable to provide for you. “Scorched earth” tactics used to ensure victory over enemies only lead to bitter cycles of vengeance and destroy my ability to protect and provide for you in the process.
As you destroy homes and make refugees of your brothers and sisters, you ensure that they must use more of my resources. I am glad to provide you with shelter, but you are consuming more than I can provide. Deforestation for fuel and building materials has accelerated since you have entered into a state of perpetual warfare. You are rendering not only your brothers and sisters homeless, but destroying the habitats of your cousins – the animals and wildlife that your Father and I have nurtured as indispensable parts of the web of life that also sustains you.
Far worse than any individual carbon footprint are the carbon tire tracks of heavy military vehicles that tear me apart, leaving toxic dust in their wake. Where feet and hooves once stomped and thundered upon me, now armored vehicles stir up polluted dust, sometimes in storms that span entire continents. Deforestation has dried out the air and accelerated the spread of airborne toxins in these storms. The climate change rendered by deforestation and destruction of land by weapons is resulting in the spread of deserts, barren wastelands unfit for sustaining agriculture. By continuing to kill each other you are signing your own death warrants and mine.
I have not even begun to mention the rising sea levels as my tears overflow for love and concern for you, my children. As you use billions of barrels of oil to fuel the destruction of one another, you also fuel greenhouse gases, melting the polar ice caps and causing the oceans to rise. Three years ago, the National Academy of Sciences projected that global sea levels could rise by as little as 50 to as much as 140 centimeters by the end of the century. Such flooding would drown coastal cities and force you to squeeze closer together, my children. Please put away your animosity now before you’re forced to share an even smaller space and fewer resources with each other!
Your wise brother Jesus has warned that those of you who live by the sword will die by the sword. That warning has become true in more ways than one, for the endless cycles of vengeance that have plagued you have torn me apart and have rendered me far less able to give you the care you need to thrive. Your brother Gandhi cautioned that I can provide for everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed. For that to remain true, my children, you must repent now not only of your greed, but of your vengeance, of your hatred, and of your fear. You must recognize that the “security” of hoarding resources is an illusion, a false horizon ever out of reach, and the more you seek to grasp the more the things you really need, including the very oxygen you breathe, will vanish. Open your hearts to love one another and let that love guide you as you come together to care for one another and care for me. I still want to provide for you, my children, but I can no longer sustain you unless you work together to revitalize me, healing yourselves – heart, body, and soul – in the process.
Just as you were made to love and serve one another, so you were made to love and serve me, and I you. Your heavenly Father created me to be your mother and your home, and created you to love and tend to me even as I provide for you from my abundance. All of creation is interwoven together, my children, and whatever you do to the least, you do to me … and yourselves. Have compassion on one another, on yourselves, and on me.
Despite all that I have suffered from your misguided violence, I not only love you, but I place my hope in you, trusting you to live into the image of your heavenly Father and the vocation he gave to you as my caretakers.
Please grant a dying old lady’s request. I place my hope in you, my children, and await the coming resurrection.
Lindsey Paris-Lopez is editor-in-chief at the Raven Foundation, where she uses mimetic theory to provide social commentary on religion, politics, and pop culture.
Image: Mother Earth illustration, bruniewska / Shutterstock.com