Friday, March 18, 2011

Render unto Qaddafi that which belong to Qaddafi

The last time I filled my tank gas cost $3. Today I paid $3.499. The last time I filled my tank Qaddafi was still trying to allay unrest by doubling the salaries of government employees. In the time it took me to use that tank of gas, Qaddafi began slaughtering the opposition and a tsunami hit Japan causing, among other catastrophes, meltdowns at major nuclear facilities on the island, releasing deadly amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.
Libya one day, Japan the next…and less than a year after the largest oil spill in the history of the United States nearly destroyed the economy and culture of the Gulf of Mexico. In the midst of this, some members of Congress and the PR machinery of the uranium and fossil fuels producers are on overdrive to persuade us not to be nervous.
Can you spell s-c-h-i-z-o-p-h-r-e-n-i-a ?
Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and varying degrees of other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances, including the coexistence of antagonistic identities, or activities, e.g. the national schizophrenia that results from debating energy policy.
Looking for parallels between schizophrenia and the expectation our need for energy can be met without doing serious social, economic or environmental damage, I found a stream of consciousness teaching schizophrenia is not a mental illness so much as “a chaotic and uncontrollable self-organizing process which has been designated as a psycho-spiritual crisis or 'spiritual emergency.” One article concluded, “The apparent 'craziness' of spiritual emergency reveals the passage into a higher consciousness state required for effective adaptability.”
I have no idea of the validity of the theory as it relates to mental illness but it does enlighten a discussion about energy independence. The growing anxiety about what may or may not be happening in Japan, what did happen in the Gulf and legitimate concerns about climate change will not be resolved in the usual context by the usual suspects. Facts are hard to come by when those with huge financial stakes in the outcome have entire television networks devoted to their cause and politicians dependent upon them for campaign contributions.
Is it possible to discuss these events as though they were neither political nor economic, but rather spiritual? What if we saw the crisis in Japan as a “spiritual emergency” and talked about it in spiritual terms?  Our unsustainable existence on the planet is indeed a spiritual emergency. With 5% of the world’s population, Americans consume 25% of the world’s energy…and then we pray God will do something to help feed the hungry Third World! On average, one American consumes as much energy as 2 Japanese, 6 Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians, and 370 Ethiopians.

There are certainly political, economic and social consequences to this imbalance but unless we start to think of it as a spiritual emergency, there is little chance we can have a productive debate much less arrive at meaningful solutions.

If we spoke of these matters as spiritual, we would talk about a shared obligation of stewardship. Sacrifice rather that exploitation would be rewarded by government policy and public opinion. All of us could readily recognize the difference between wants and needs. Our expectation that someone else will take care of the problem before it’s too late could be replaced with personal responsibility and the exercise of the sort of free-will God envisioned when God first planted that garden in Eden.

“Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and unto God that which belongs to God.” Take those words seriously and there would have no problem viewing these matters as spiritual.

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