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Monday, June 21, 2010

Recession, War, and Environmental Catastrophe

"For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now." - President Obama, June 15, 2010

On this blog we have discussed the fact that in order to move our nation in a different direction, we ultimately need a change to the system--a change in the way we think and live and move about in our lives. Yet we have also noted that such a systematic change will not happen until individuals and communities are willing to sacrifice in the short term to make this happen.

It appears as though the political will may be here for the immediate future to commit to taking steps toward systematic change. Will the people be willing to make sacrifices? To change our way of being? And what specifically will be asked of them?

For me, the discussion is not just about being more energy efficient but also about the deeper spirit to consume, the consumeristic impulses that seem to motivate our behavior. It is, I think, a spiritual struggle, a battle for the way we will orient our souls and our collective national self.

President Obama began his speech by discussing a "multitude of challenges" that have faced the nation: "At home, our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American. Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al Qaeda wherever it exists. And tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens."

He notes the three areas of disaster: economic recession, war, and environmental catastrophe. I see the consumeristic impulse causing or motivating all of these. I wonder if these three events and concerns will shape our political landscape for the next few decades. I wonder if people of faith will respond with enthusiasm.

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