Sustainable Preaching at COP 26:
“A Language of Relations and Healing – New Ways Facing Climate Change”
Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SEC), Hall 5, Space IASS Potsdam, Nov. 10th, 13-14:30 (GMT)
Introduction (Michael Rentz)
We met at COP 26 to talk about the need of a new kind of language, new forms of dialogues, facing climate change. The language of the so called developed countries led into the ecological crisis during the last fifty years. If we look detailled, the roots of this language reach back to the age of Enlightenment in the Old World when “liberty” began to be understood the liberty to reject responsibility for what is happening around us and redeem ourselves individually. Unfortunately we forgot our brothers and sisters on that way.
The question is if the development of the developed countries is a desirable development at all for the planet. Outer voices and our inner voices tell us: It isn’t.
Since fifty years it seems we cant’t stop the ecological crisis. We seem to be captured in it because our thinking and speaking – our culture as our language of possible development – apparently opens no way to get out. It is like being captured in a matrix without knowing to live in a matrix and not in the real world. The way we speak and negotiate forces us continously to fall back into the matrix, see the film from the year 1999 by Lana und Lilly Wachowski: The protagonist Neo had the chance to chose between a blue and a red pill. We (in the industrial countries) permanently take the blue pill. That means everything will continue as it has been before. The predictable result is to be captured in a framing that causes the continuing ecological crises. In the discussion at COP 26 today we talk about the red pill that opens the eyes and leads out of the crisis – leaving the matrix. Maybe in fact it is a green pill because knowledge only of the situation is not enough. Social interaction is needed, and as we in this room imagine it has to be rooted in a spiritual way connected to our inner voices.
Our inner voice speaks a language of healing and creativity. Healing combined with creativity and facing challenges is what human beings really are made for. In this point philosophy and belief fortunately are in agreement. That makes me confident because we do not need two different strategies – one for Christians and another one for the rest of the world.
Not only climate change has to be faced with new forms of dialogues. This today’s challenge concerns all parts of the ecological crisis from which climate change is only one result. The ecological crises in fact is the half-hearted dealing with the challenges we are facing!
In the interfaith and international project “sustainable preaching” we try to develop a living network for creation care by rooting the terms of sustainabiliy to the verses of the bible. Here the participants – from all over the world – try to remind themselves and others that sustainability is nothing new but founded in the bible.
Thank you for being here to share your insights out of your personal spiritual background with us!
Maureen Goodman, Programme Director, Brahma Kumaris, UK and Strategic Circle member, Spirit of Humanity Forum: The language we use has a profound impact on our worldview. Our culture is lived through our language. Indigenous languages are ‘verb-based’. For example, instead of a word for ‘love’ as an abstract thing, it is described as an act of generosity, an expression. There are many studies about this. Perhaps the most important aspect is the feeling behind the words we speak. What is our consciousness as we communicate? Is it a consciousness of respect, of abundance, or acceptance? The vibrations that come from our deep inner intentions are listened to far more than words. Cleaning out our consciousness from any negativity such as anger, fear or hatred will also help ignite those purer positive intentions in others.
Jakob Ellensohn, Industrial Engineer, and member of the federation of German catholic youth (BDKJ) and catholic rural youth movement (KLJB): We think we can exploit as many resources as we want from the earth, but we are not separated from the planet, we are a part of it! If we destroy the environment, we knock down ourselves. Nearly every day we can see and feel the consequences of our behaviour: natural disasters, changed weather conditions, and rising sea levels. But why are we continuing in a lot of parts of our lives as we would never heart about climate change? I am convinced that the head, heart, and hand approach can help to overcome that gap:
Head: We learn new insights about climate change through hard facts and data. We learn the reasons for climate change. We learn what we, as an individual, and society can change. That´s the common way of education. The following two parts add to that.
Heart: When we gain new knowledge, we need to make sure that we get touched by that. Our knowledge must seep into our hearts. Now we might feel that we are interconnected with the world around us, and we start worrying about it.
Hand: We get active. We want the change. We make the first steps to protect our all homes.
There are plenty of methods for such an approach – let’s spread it!
Thomas Bettinger, Kaiserslautern (Germany), International Kolping Society: The Kolping Family is a community of solidarity that strives for the welfare of the individual as well as the whole community, but does so in the context of the local political and ecclesiastical community, for whose welfare it also consciously assumes responsibility. It wants to help shape its environment. The members see themselves as members of a family, as members of a “family-like” community and call themselves brothers and sisters – “Kolping brothers and Kolping sisters” – and also speak to each other in this way. Like in a family, they meet each other at eye level, on an equal footing and with equal value. Affection, respect, mutual recognition, promotion of creativity characterise the community and its language. Wanting to see and understand life from the perspective of the brother and sister is central to life in KOLPING INTERNATIONAL. Across continents. This is not easy, but it is an aspiration and a challenge. Just like in a family, there are also conflicts in my association. But they are solved like in a family, in respect for the brother, the sister and in view of the common goal. Every day, the members of the association, especially the association leadership, strive for a language of humanity, sensitivity, which is ultimately measured against the language of Jesus, who himself was also a friend of people and a healer. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-12) appears here as the pioneering model of a language of social relationships and healing.
Nele Nopper, Berlin (Germany), Klimagefühle, Climate emotions Coach: If we talk about climate, it’s mostly being talked about facts, data and numbers. We also talk about the roots of the climate crisis and possible solutions which is obviously crucial. But what’s hardly being discussed: how do we feel because of the climate crisis, political inaction and necessary changes? Does it make us feel frightened, furious, confused, powerless, guilty or … courageous? In my climate emotions Workshops, I create a space where we can speak confiding about the emotional level of the multiple crisis, where we can build up a better and deeper understanding of other views and behaviours, where we can feel a sense of community and how to feel courageous together. Feeling climate emotions can create a bridge between knowledge and action – which is why climate emotions in my view can play a key role in the transformation towards a Climate just world.