Climate change is also an ethical and spiritual crisis.
Summer night on a rowing trip the air is calm, the hot city is left behind, the water is exceptionally warm. My mother, who escaped the childhood scenery of the city, says, “I wish there was no evil in the world.”
For Finns, nature is sacred. This experience of holiness has been reached by many on a quiet cottage pier, nature parks, waters, or nearby beaches.
Summer has been hot and dry for us. Elsewhere, so much water has rained that homes have collapsed and people have died under floods. Heat and forest fires also wreak havoc.
The effects of climate change are being met around the world. Evil creeps into the middle of the sacred.
Multi experiences confusion, anxiety, and also guilt in the midst of natural change and climate debate. What is happening to the world? What is the future of our children? How should I change my own daily life? How can I do the right thing and see hope? In the midst of change, we lose a sense of control.
Guilty speech easily paralyzes. However, difficult feelings are not worth escaping. The more you become acquainted with the change at hand, the more personal the pain of nature becomes. It cannot close the ears or the heart.
An important step in the midst of change is to acknowledge despair. It requires agreeing to see the dark in your own life as well. When we face our actions and difficult emotions, we honestly see the world as it is. False optimism does not move forward.
By discussing even difficult feelings, we find a constructive way to adapt to change. The emergency must be responded to together.
Climate change the consequences create homelessness. Many experience alienation and long for a shared vision of life. The feeling of connection and continuity is fragile. The paradox is that a Western man who grew up in the midst of well-being suffers from loneliness, incompetence, and a lack of purpose and meaning.
We have learned to escape the emptiness that seems difficult by escaping. We have misinterpreted the place of man as the ruler of creation — a man with endless needs.
Hopelessness and uncertainty create a sense of meaninglessness that may also lead to the search for answers to dangerous certainty and fundamentalist thinking. Instead of one truth, humility, openness and researched knowledge are needed.
The perspective needs to be broadened. Climate change is not only an environmental, economic and political crisis, but also an ethical and spiritual crisis. Churches and religious communities have a place to look in the mirror. In addition to souls, the world must be saved.
It means a shift from a hierarchical overriding teaching to a more holistic interpretation of religion. Nature and animals do not speak. It is therefore necessary to defend the integrity of life, emphasize the sanctity of nature and commit to a reasonable lifestyle.
On climate change suffer the most where life is already fragile and the impact is limited. In a prosperous world, we must agree to change our way of life and make solutions. Climate protection cannot be left to others.
When we agree to look honestly at despair, it changes our thinking and, through it, our way of life. Reducing emissions is about political decisions, the commitment of states and the way companies operate, but also the way every individual lives.
A sustainable way of life arises from harmony with people and nature. A reconciliation must be made. We are interdependent – the world is a whole, all parts of which belong together and are in relation to each other.
When the world wakes up to despair, it can also work together to overcome the climate crisis. Much has been done, much remains to be done and much remains to be done. It creates hope.
The author is the bishop of the Archdiocese of Turku.