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What would our world look like if we all respected science, nature and each other? What is it that prevents us from such respect? What is it that keeps us from respect for science and nature? For one thing, as former Vice President Al Gore said, it’s an “inconvenient truth” to acknowledge that how we are living is causing great harm to our home planet, ourselves and all life. Ultimately it boils down to too many people consuming too many things. It is more than a little inconvenient to change our lifestyles, behaviors and consumption habits!

Let’s look at what’s happened with regard to the pandemic. It’s clear that if leadership in the U.S. had respect for science and had followed the guidelines of health professionals, epidemiologists and scientists we would have saved many thousands of lives. The leadership of the United States largely ignored the directives of science regarding COVID and now we have more cases and deaths than any country in the world.

As Thomas Freidman said in this Op Ed, “And remember, as bad as this pandemic is, it's just training wheels for the big, irreversible atmospheric pandemic: climate change.” We have so much evidence of what excessive carbon emissions is doing to our climate, to our planet, to life on Earth, that it is impossible to dismiss. As Paul Hawken of Project Drawdown says, “Science is not a belief system.”The facts are that climate change has caused and / or contributed to hundreds of natural disasters and huge disruptions in normal weather patterns, including the reality that 100.4 degrees F was recorded above the Arctic Circle on June 20! I could go on and on about the destruction we are wreaking on our Earth and all life with our lifestyles by not respecting science and nature.

What about respect for each other? Would there be the hatred, the violence, the war, the abuse, the oppression, the disdain for our fellow beings if we had respect for each other? What keeps us from respecting each other? The capitalist system has trained us to be in it for ourselves, to not care about the effect of our actions on anyone or anything else. We are trained to believe that we must rely only on our own cleverness, determination and capabilities. We climb ladders at the expense of others. What is important is to obtain as much money, power and stuff as possible. That is what counts in this culture. It would indeed be very inconvenient to transform that core belief and system to embrace “a new bottom line,” as Rabbi Michael Lerner puts it: a culture of cooperation, generosity, sharing and love.

We must see ourselves not as separate from each other but as members of our common human family, living in a common home. We can and must do this.


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