A monster hurricane ground the Bahamas almost to dust
Men with guns killed people in several different places
One of them shot a toddler in the face
Alaska and Siberia and the Amazon rainforest burned
unspeakable crimes punctuated the news cycle.
This is the new normal, apparently: things that once would have been the big news of the entire month or season are now piled up in a single day, disaster upon disaster. These are human-made disasters: they aren’t earthquakes or tsunamis. Every few days, some guy grabs a gun and kills a bunch of people because he feels like it. Despite the political pressure to think otherwise, climate change is real and the evidence is all around us. For the past two years, the changed climate in California and the rest of the American West has engendered monster fires, fires so big that they are visible from space, and now the Arctic and the Amazon are burning, as well.
So how should we pray about these messes that we human beings have made?
Jewish tradition does not encourage us to pray for miracles. It does not encourage us to look towards the heavens and say, “God, please fix it.”
Jewish tradition encourages us to work to make the miracles we need. When we stood trembling at the bank of the Red Sea, God scolded Moses for stopping to pray and said, “Get moving!” (Exodus 14:15) In that story, God may have stretched out “a mighty arm” as the Haggadah says, but we were expected to seize the hand offered and ultimately, deliver ourselves. We did not fly out of Egypt; we walked.
For too long, we have whined and scuffed our feet at the edge of these Red Seas we face today. We have wasted precious time arguing instead of acting.
Can’t get the solution to gun violence that we want? Push our elected officials to get whatever compromise might help a little. Enforce existing laws, tighten what controls can be tightened. Fund more mental health care. Fund research. Explore every possible option. Do not simply blame it on “bad people” or “stupid people” or “liberals” or “conservatives.”
Let’s do the same with climate change. Let each of us push our elected officials to take it seriously, and do what we can individually. If our grandparents and great-grandparents could sacrifice to fight the Nazis, why can’t we make sacrifices to make the changes we must make to survive? WE – not “other people.” Let’s tell the corporations that they get to make sacrifices, too. We are all in this together; there is only one Earth.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, who gave us brains and intended that we use them. Please give us the strength to save ourselves from ourselves.