In the build up to COP21, religious leaders have come out in support of action on climate change. Of course, not every religion shares the faith.
One early autumn evening in Melbourne, when the chill was still novel enough to brave a backyard barbecue, my associates assembled for a bender. It was a troubled, not-altogether hygienic bunch who rallied their inner beasts for revelry that Saturday.
The partying progressed along productive lines until Toddy the dog-breeder took offence at something somebody said. A tad touchy was Toddy. Dog breeding is a crooked game and, knowing that, players tend to be wound tight.
The offendee dealt out a hammer-blow that crumpled the offender like an aluminium can. Immediately, a rough-head firebrand leapt to the can’s defence, barbarian eyes burning wild and wasted. Toddy flipped the pretender head over tail, then drove knee into midriff with a sound like a puncturing tire.
Then the men stepped in. One produced a length of two-by-four and swatted Toddy to the skull. It would have knocked me cold, but Toddy merely dipped a little and sprang back into place like a button. She turned on her assailant, tore the weapon from his hand and walloped him with it, sending him reeling, hands pinned to a broken nose.
I can’t recall exactly what happened next, only that it lacked dignity, but we ended up bruised, bloodied and bunkered inside, cowering with cops on the way. As her boyfriend tried to calm her down, talking through the bleeding, Toddy prowled the backyard like a Doberman.
Perhaps it sweetly illustrates the caliber of the people I was among that some wag, disgruntled at the turn his evening had taken, ripped open the door and bellowed into the wilderness, “Party pooper!”
And thus, just as a length of two-be-four connected with Toddy’s skull, we connect with the theme of this article: No matter how hot the party, some people just have to pour cold water on it.
In September 2015 Pope Francis addressed the UN, cautioning against the “selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity.” He warned that man “can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favorable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity.”
Thank God for Pope Francis. He’s one of those stalwart optimists all good parties need — the charismatic chat-smith entrenched next the heater, radiating good cheer even while the barrels run dry.
And thank God for the Dalai Lama, too. He and other Buddhist leaders have signed a statement urging the use of wisdom and compassion in reaching agreement at COP21. What an elevating presence he is, bringing to mind one of those impish pranksters who buzz about shoving firecrackers into peoples’ pockets. Sister Chan Khong, another eminent Buddhist, says, “We must take action, not out of a sense of duty but out of love for our planet and for each other.”
Leaders of the evangelical movement, also, have made clear their views. John MacArthur of Grace Community Mega-Church in LA says, “The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever. But we know that isn’t in God’s plan…I’ve told environmentalists that if they think humanity is wrecking the planet, wait until they see what Jesus does to it.”
Don’t rely on him to bring the melon balls, then.
On the bright side, if the nut-jobs are the only ones resisting action on climate change, clearly there is hope. As more and more leaders of wisdom and compassion come to the party, it seems more and more likely COP21 will succeed.