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Unwavering Perseverance

February 7, 2011 – Lest anyone think that last week’s wandering diatribe was this blogger’s way of saying “it’s time to give up,” it’s time, instead, to correct that misapprehension right away. Diatribe it may have been, truth it certainly was. But life on this beautiful planet is worth fighting for, so you will never read the words “give up” on this blog. Do all you can to mitigate global warming, starting with the immediate planting of as many trees as you can get your hands on. Burn as little in the way of fossil fuels, directly or indirectly, as you can. Demonstrate against the shipment of coal to China (yes, plans are underway in the state of Washington to do that very thing). And yes, prayer would be a good idea. We have the privilege of being G-d’s partners. Let’s start shouldering our part of the burden.

Have you seen the movie The Miracle Worker? Annie Sullivan is hired by Helen Keller’s desperate family, and tasked with finding a way to communicate with their deaf, dumb, and blind daughter. Week after week, Sullivan works with Helen, knowing that this intelligent child will one day make sense of the unique approach Sullivan has chosen to take. Helen’s older brother, mystified by Annie’s unwavering perseverance, challenges her, saying that she knows full well Helen will never understand. Annie’s response is at once angry and horrified. She lashes out, telling him that quitting is easy. She will never give up, because, she asserts, “giving up is the original sin.”

Did you know that Jewish people who became Nazi prisoners and were sent to the death camps, chanted the Shema – the holiest prayer in Judaism – as they stood in line to “take showers?” Not all of them, no. But those who never lost faith did. Those who never gave up. If they could keep faith in the face of impending death, surely we can keep trying to act as the stewards of this precious place that is our home. Surely we can make up our minds to do better. To do less is to sneer at the paradise we’ve been given, to keep insisting we have to have more.

For those who think it’s still not that bad …

A research report was issued last week by British and Brazilian scientists that contained very disheartening news. As a result of two droughts that have struck the Amazon within the last six years, it now appears that the beleaguered rain forest has become a net emitter of carbon dioxide, rather than a net absorber. The Amazon, known as the lungs of our planet, has been crippled to the point of having become a liability. Rendered vulnerable first by the burning of trees in order to clear land to be farmed, then wounded by logging, this gentle giant of the forest world may at last have been struck a mortal blow.

From now on, when you plant trees, be mindful of the entity whose place they are taking.


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