Hardly a day goes by without another ominous report on global warming. Just a couple of days ago, I read an article about a series of authoritative studies that say global warming is accelerating three times more quickly than the worst predictions. The scientific community has reached a massive consensus: Global warming is really happening, and it is mainly caused by human activity. It will have dramatic effects on the earth and human society unless we act quickly to do something about it (and may have dramatic effects even if we do act quickly). Recently, someone asked me what A Course in Miracles would have to say about all this. Does the Course shed any light on this issue?
Before answering that question, let’s look at some other religious/spiritual perspectives on the global warming issue. There seem to be two broad perspectives. First, there are the minority who say that global warming isn’t really a problem. This is a view I’ve seen especially in fundamentalist Christian circles. Global warming is just a hoax perpetrated by godless liberals. Moreover, even if it’s really happening, it doesn’t matter because we’re in the End Times; God will soon be rapturing Christians into Heaven and dishing out Armageddon to everyone else, so just get right with Christ and you will have eternal life with God. Second, there are the majority (including many conservative evangelical Christians) who say global warming is a real problem that needs to be dealt with. In this view, the earth is sacred in some sense—it is our Mother, or a manifestation of the Absolute, or God’s creation—so we have a sacred obligation to take good care of it.
What does the Course say? It doesn’t say anything specifically about global warming or any other environmental issue. However, as Course students know, it does say that the earth is an illusion generated by our ego-based wish to be separate from God, an illusion that has no real effect on our true nature as God’s Sons. What ramifications does this have for the global warming issue? Two come to mind for me. First, we can rest assured that no matter what happens to the earth, we have eternal life with God. Thus there is actually a broad point of agreement with the fundamentalist Christian perspective, though of course there are far more profound disagreements—in the Course, God doesn’t dish out earthly cataclysms, and everyone has eternal life, not just Christians.
Second, this earth can become quite a different place once we undo that ego-based wish to be separate from God. Global warming, after all, is an ego-based phenomenon: It is the result of both our egoic need to fill our illusory lacks with things of the world (like oil revenues and gas-guzzling SUVs) and our deeper egoic need to punish ourselves for the “sin” of separating from God, a punishment delivered through painful worldly events (like drought and hurricanes). When we let go of the ego and accept our true Identity as eternal Sons of God, we will no longer have any need for either worldly things to fill our lacks or worldly punishment to expiate our “sin.” This would ultimately heal all worldly ills, including global warming.
The global warming issue can also be approached from another Course angle: its teaching that behind each and every form in this world—birds, flowers, grains of sand, tables, even things like wind and waves—there is a holy Son of God dreaming that he is that form. (For more on this idea, see my Q & A on the Sonship.) This means that the earth is full of our brothers, nonhuman as well as human, and the Course’s path is one of healing our brothers. We do this by extending love to their minds, but this process also includes communicating that love to them by treating their forms kindly—in the human realm, if you want to communicate love, a hug is far more effective than a punch in the face. Applying this principle more broadly, one way of communicating love to the earth as a whole could certainly be to cut our carbon emissions. Thus, I think there is also a broad point of agreement with the second religious/spiritual perspective we’ve seen: In the Course version, the Sons of God whose illusory forms populate the earth are sacred, and it is an essential aspect of our path to take good care of them.
What can we do, then, to reverse global warming? Speaking generally, I think our main responsibility is to walk the path of the Course, which will enable us to see the world differently, undo our egos, and extend healing miracles to our brothers everywhere, human and nonhuman. What about specific actions, though? What concrete things should we do? The Course’s counsel is always to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on specific actions; given the enormous complexities of the global warming issue, I think divine Help is absolutely essential. I think we need to listen to His Voice—by whatever name it is called throughout the world—in any way we can. He speaks through many channels: through science, through everyone who is working on this issue, and through the promptings of our own hearts. I have no idea what the solution will look like on the level of form, but I’m leaning on a promise the Course holds out to everyone who fears the worst: “A happy outcome to all things is sure” (W-pII.292.Heading).
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