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News from all around the planet reports surprising weather. Too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry, the climate increasingly throws us curve balls – and imperils our cities and nations.
When we consider the natural world, we witness a system that balances itself out. Extra rain may produce a generous crop of grass, which may support a plentiful fluffle of rabbits. This in turn produces a larger skulk of foxes. While nature can be brutal and unforgiving for a weak rabbit or a starving fox, through various drivers, nature seeks and finds stability.
RELATED: Praying for Mother Nature
Nature is a great instructor for humanity, providing visual evidence of God’s power in our lives. The prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, wrote that contemplating nature can lead us to the Creator:
Every time I lift up mine eyes unto Thy heaven, I call to mind Thy highness and Thy loftiness, and Thine incomparable glory and greatness; and every time I turn my gaze to Thine earth, I am made to recognize the evidences of Thy power and the tokens of Thy bounty. And when I behold the sea, I find that it speaketh to me of Thy majesty, and of the potency of Thy might, and of Thy sovereignty and Thy grandeur. And at whatever time I contemplate the mountains, I am led to discover the ensigns of Thy victory and the standards of Thine omnipotence.
We human beings have long lived as a part of nature’s natural cycle. By means of our reasoning and intellectual powers, however, we can and do bypass the natural elements that would otherwise keep us contained. Our scientific and technological inventions allow us to control environmental conditions and produce energy, allowing us to live on a cliff at the edge of the sea, at the foot of a volcano, or in a desert. Some of us have even lived in space!
We Disrupt the Natural Environment at Our Peril
As we’ve all learned with this unusual weather, though, upsetting the natural balance of our environment has a profound impact. Destabilizing nature’s balanced system produces dangerous effects in other areas – so nothing should surprise us about the droughts or tornados or rising sea levels we see today.
Due to self-interest, however, people and the companies they run ignore or deny the connection between burning fossil fuels and climate instability. The Baha’i teachings have warned humanity about this condition. In a tablet he wrote in the 19th century, Baha’u’llah cautioned:
Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth but they are hidden from the minds and the understanding of men. These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal.
It seems that we run the risk of enduring a very visible, uncomfortable, and dangerous correction by nature before we accept our responsibility to protect the Earth.
Balance Equals Justice – Environmentally and Racially
Like nature and the climate, human society has also entered a period of instability. While we have the potential to live in harmony, imbalance upsets that equilibrium. Another word for “balance” is justice — and many kinds of injustice in the world deprive people of happiness. In America, for example, the foundational injustice of anti-Black racism deprives all our population of its full potential. Systemic racism has burdened Black and Brown communities in America, but it has largely gone ignored by White Americans until recently. A combination of efficient communication technologies, such as cellphones and social media, and economic disparity during the pandemic have accelerated both the visibility of this issue and destabilizing forces behind this imbalance. The injustice is plain to see: but we need to act to address it. Baha’u’llah said:
How long will humanity persist in its waywardness? How long will injustice continue? How long is chaos and confusion to reign amongst men? How long will discord agitate the face of society?
This humble servant is filled with wonder, inasmuch as all men are endowed with the capacity to see and hear, yet we find them deprived of the privilege of using these faculties. This servant hath been prompted to pen these lines by virtue of the tender love he cherisheth for thee. The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divideth and afflicteth the human race is daily increasing. The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appeareth to be lamentably defective. I beseech God, exalted be His glory, that He may graciously awaken the peoples of the earth, may grant that the end of their conduct may be profitable unto them, and aid them to accomplish that which beseemeth their station.
The Baha’i writings also advise everyone to work to build balance and justice for everyone: “In all circumstances one should seize upon every means which will promote security and tranquility among the peoples of the world.”
With every temperature record broken, and every unprecedented flood or fire, nature offers us a forecast of our future, and makes clear the impact of ignoring imbalances in our planet’s environment. Baha’is believe that as we address the root causes of climate change, we must likewise identify and root out injustice in human society.