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Pages tagged "Nature"

A Cuba Testimony Growing up, I was taught to live by and hold high the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Service. But I also always felt the influence of another important testimony – Environmental Caretaking. While this testimony may fall under several of the traditional Quaker testimonies listed above, it also holds a power strong enough to stand on its own. It is important that we as humans – and we as Quakers – live up to these principles and standards. What this means for me in terms of Environmental Caretaking is this: When we begin to see the environment as that Eternal Source sustaining all, we must in turn learn to understand it, and to give back and support the Earth to the best of our abilities.

On Countries (January 2016)

A Longing for Beauty On a narrow country road eleven miles north of Santa Barbara, California, you will spot the sign for Chumash Painted Cave State Historical Park. Stop and peer through the protective fencing into the small sandstone grotto by the side of the road, and you will see colorful wheel-like and ladder-like designs painted by native people several hundred to a thousand years ago. The figures may be shamanic designs, or they may be depictions of a solar eclipse that occurred in 1677. Nobody can be sure. To me, a nonexpert, they are striking examples of beauty from long ago, created to be seen.

On Tricks (May 2021)

A Much Larger Puzzle Dear Friends: In its last issue, Western Friend published a letter to grandchildren everywhere talking about the environmental conditions we are leaving to our grandchildren. While I am grateful to WF for publishing that letter, I am concerned about editorial changes that were made that I was not given the opportunity to review before it went to press. The issue I have with these changes is that they misrepresent what I was trying to say in two important ways. First, the final version gives the impression that all our environmental and social problems revolve around the use of fossil fuels. Our overuse of fossil fuels is just one piece of a much larger puzzle that involves how we manage resources, not just which resource we use. Second, the published letter was edited in ways that oversimplified what I was saying about hope and the factors driving us towards what may be an environmental cliff. In addition to being a grandfather, I am also a geologist and a college educator. This means that I often talk with people who feel that environmentalists are misinformed sentimentalists who are naive about science, economics, politics, and human nature. Because some of the people I eventually hope to reach are adults like my students and colleagues, as well as “just plain folks,” it is important to me that the hope and optimism expressed in it takes into account the complex and harsh realities of our situation. Otherwise we grandparents concerned about the world our grandchildren might inherit from us will be discounted as just another gaggle of naive idealists. We cannot afford to be regarded in this way if we are to have any hope of changing our present course.

On Pride (July 2014)

A Small Church with a Big Heart Dear Friends: Klamath Falls (Oregon) Friends Church is a big supporter of Friendly Water for the World. Beginning in 2015, they have been supporting three community groups who have ensured clean water for some 60,000 people and have become entirely self-sufficient in the process. The three groups are now among the largest philanthropists in eastern Rwanda, providing food for the hungry, health insurance, shoes, and books for children entering school. The members of the three groups work four days a week on clean water efforts; on the fifth day they work in sewing and in traditional crafts, such as basket weaving.

On Home (September 2017)

Absurd Dear Editor: Regarding your attempt at calculating the carbon offset amount mandated by your and others’ air travel (WF, Nov./Dec.,’16) I am somewhat puzzled by the whole enterprise. Yes, we all participate in the machinery of ongoing environmental degradation and the apparently accelerating pace of climate catastrophe. But isn’t it misleading, even absurd to try to calculate this out in dollars-and-cents terms as if we could pay out toward our fiscal responsibility at an imaginary teller window somewhere? Really, how could mere humans have any real conception of the actual load placed on the biosphere by our various collective activities? And doesn’t reducing that responsibility to a dollar amount imply that we can simply pay for it, in whatever amount we reckon the damage to be, and then go back to our usual practices without another thought?

On Balance (May 2017)

Carbon Offsets for Western Friend

Many new initiatives to promote "carbon offsets" have emerged since the letter below was published.

On Flesh (November 2016)