It takes a village to heal America; it takes a village to heal the Earth

Seven Axioms for healing transformation:

  1. No house can long stand half slave and half free.
  2. No house can long stand where, of its resident family, 1% are masters and 99% are bewildered.
  3. No house can long stand if its masters plan for its grandchildren to suffer death and disaster.
  4. No house can long stand if its family shrieks only No as fire consumes their home but has created no vision of a life-giving alternative.

    5. Scattered individuals, inspired from afar but not connected with each other, cannot heal and transform a house, a country, a planet.

6.  It takes a village of people who speak, sing, chant, dance, plant, build, and dare with each other to heal the present and give life to the future.

7. Many such villages, in fact.

In the past, The Shalom Center has been a healing force when we were able to bring inspiration to people who became villages by connecting with each other.

At our beginning, in 1983, we gave a Jewishly inflected voice on the dangers of nuclear holocaust – – what the ancient rabbis called a Flood of Fire – – to Jews who had become lost in the thickets of "national security."

We called together young Jews for weeks of training in how to draw on Jewish wisdom – – liturgy, symbols, festivals, life-cycle markers, texts of Torah – – to become in the same breath effective renewers of Judaism and effective workers for tikkun olam, the healing of the great round world.  They called themselves “Jewcies,” reveling in the pun that put pungent flavor into a tradition that had become worn and boring.

When an American presidency lied our country into a war against Iraq, we spoke out even before the invasion to say how immoral, how false, how disastrous that war would be. 

We inspired pockets of opposition among rabbis and within synagogues and other Jewish gatherings, and brought those resisters together into villages of shared support  until they could challenge their official organizations into change. We acted like a tugboat that could nudge great ocean liners into changing course.

As it became clearer and clearer that the burning of fossil fuels was scorching our Mother Earth, we re-examined  the weave of ancient Torah to find in it a strong thread of wisdom about how human beings could resonate with the Earth of which we are always a part.

We sowed the seeds of Eco-Judaism until they began here and there to sprout.  But there is still no Jewish organization other than The Shalom Center that makes the healing of the Earth and the survival of human civilization its first priority. Indeed, the very best Jewish impulses for social justice  still too rarely respond to the truth that in our generation, social justice and planetary healing are inextricably intertwined.

It is time to turn sprouts into verdant fields.  It is time to move from individual inspiration into the making of villages.

And it is already time for Earth-concerned Jewish villages to connect directly with Earth-concerned villages from other spiritual, religious, and ethical traditions  -- including the scientific community. It is time for us to make from each separate "wisdom species" a cultural ecosystem in which each species gives life to the others, precisely because it brings its own unique wisdom to the ecosystem as a whole.

It is time to awaken the very last words of the last of the ancient Hebrew prophets: "I will send you Elijah the Prophet to turn the hearts of the parents to the children and the hearts of the children to the parents, lest the Breath of Life become a destructive wind, a Hyper-Hurricane, to utterly destroy the Earth."  (Malachi 3:23-24.)

What does this mean today? It is time to refocus our response to the climate crisis and global scorching not only with a No to the burning of fossil fuels but also the creation of Yeses that can heal and restore the climate for our children and grandchildren so that it brings as much life-givingness as when it nurtured our parents and grandparents. 

How do we create such villages in every community of every tradition?

We urge that you who are the readers and supporters and members of The Shalom Center do the following:

Ask in your synagogue, your church, your mosque, your PTA, your neighborhood, who would like to gather as an Earth-healing Village to act in several  ways:

  1. To organize a congregation-rooted or neighborhood-rooted Solar Co-op.  It can save its members money by reducing their electrical expenses, it can reduce the rates of asthma and cancer in some neighborhoods where coal-fired plants or oil refineries spew poison into the air,  it can physically reduce the CO2 emissions that  are bringing on Hyper-Hurricanes and city-crippling Floods and region-wrecking Droughts and Famines and Floods of refugees. And each Solar Co-op could become a neighborly group and a political base for broader change.

2. The same people in the same Co-op could join with others to become a reading and self-education group to learn how we can use the knowledge scientists are amassing to bring about Healthy Climate Restoration.

3. The same people in the same Co-op could join with others to challenge elected officials and corporate managers to  adopt strong policies to end emissions of CO2 and methane, and act to withdraw from the atmosphere a trillion tons  of disastrous CO2 that we have already put there earlier -- before we realized what the results would be. 

4. If some or all of these same people are members of religious congregations, together they could introduce new versions of the prayer and meditation process that will focus sacred attention on our sacred commitment to the Earth, to ourselves, and to future generations of our families.

What can The Shalom Center do to help empower this kind of grass-roots work? 

This letter, this Shalom Report, is already long enough to spark discussions among your family, your friends, your colleagues at work, your neighbors, your fellow-congregants. We invite you to forward it by email or even print it out, to share it with some of them. Invite them over for an evening of nosherei  (“munchies”) and conversation to discuss what this might mean.

Write us what you do and what emerges.

We will follow up. Indeed, at The Shalom Center we are already preparing for some shared long-distance computer-enabled conversations where we can both teach and learn what visions, what actions, can heal us.

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