It’s an old metaphor that you see popping up more and more these days: that of the frog placed in a pot of water that is brought to a boil. The story goes that if you drop the frog in when the water is hot, the frog will jump out. But if you raise the heat slowly, the frog will stay: adjusting itself to the warming water until it is cooked.
It’s a particularly good metaphor for the phenomenon of climate change since it applies literally. Rising global temperatures threaten many of the systems that support life on Earth. While awareness of this trend is growing, the responses of our institutions, governments, even how we organize our individual lives don’t come anyway near meeting the urgency of this crisis. Can we mount a response adequate to the challenge before we are cooked?
We understand the inertia that keeps us from acting. This is arguably the biggest, most complex crisis humankind has ever faced. But the good news is that its resolution is in our hands: after all, we caused it. After decades of research, we understand that the massive industrialization and heedless development that our species has pursued in the last several centuries are the primary drivers of the climate chaos we are now living with.
Yet, even knowing this makes it no easier to choose a way forward since there are so many constituencies with conflicting agendas. It can make us numb trying to keep track of it all. So, what do we do? On Sunday, July 10, I plan to argue that our role as a religious people is to help reframe the work before us so that we might be reenergized for the critical task of saving our planet.
But I don’t plan to argue that I alone have the answer. I believe that this reframing will come out of a wide conversation that embraces many people of integrity and compassion. There is meme popular in cyberspace these days called “hive mind.” Essentially, it envisions a large number of people offering reflections on a topic with no one guiding the process. So, for the next week I would like to invite the “hive mind” to help me work through this question:
How might religious people reframe how we address climate change so that it might reenergize the work of saving our planet?
Feel free to respond directly to this blog or send me your thoughts to me at email@example.com. I will also be posting this question on our congregation’s Facebook page. Feel free to respond there, if you’d prefer and share this question and your responses. I will integrate what I learn into the sermon on July 10. Have at it, friends!
Rev. Mark Ward is the Lead Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville.