A woman came up to me at work the other day and started going on and on about how all of the terrible things happening around us had been predicted by the book of revelations and how the second coming was nigh. Even when I told her that her faith wasn’t my faith (and she said that was fine, to each their own and all that), she continued to go on about the book of revelations.
When I mentioned that we were destroying our planet, she dismissed that concern, essentially saying that it didn’t matter because we wouldn’t be on the planet much longer due to the second coming. That arrogance and ignorance about the world, about the planet, incensed me. I wanted to respond to her, but I was at work. And I pride myself on my professionalism, so I said nothing. Partially because of my professionalism and partially because I knew that no matter what I said, she wouldn’t listen.
And this is one of the reasons I can’t stand Christianity or other Abrahamic faiths that preach about the second coming of the messiah who will come to the earth and take everyone off of it in some glorious moment. This ridiculous illusion is what allows people to damage the earth to the extent it has become damaged.
I watched a video the other day that put the damage we, as a species, have done to the earth into a horrifyingly clear picture. According to that video, if you condensed the age of the earth down to a 24-hour day, then, proportionally, human beings have been alive for a grand total of 3 seconds. In 3 seconds, we have decimated the beauty of this world.
Christianity and other Abrahamic faiths give their followers permission to do whatever they want to the planet around them because, after all, if the messiah comes to save them in a blazing flash of glory, then it doesn’t matter what the world around them looks like. It doesn’t matter if they destroy the planet – after all, to them, heaven is the only place worth going.
There is an ugliness in a person’s willingness to destroy the beauty of the world around them, an ugliness that cannot be erased. And yet, millions of people casually destroy the world around them without a thought. Not all of them are Christians or followers of Abrahamic faiths – some of them are atheists, and some of them are just ignorant of the amazing life of the planet that surrounds them.
I went on a hiking trip earlier this year, and I have trouble with steep hikes as I have metal rods in my leg. I mentioned that I should have thought to bring a walking stick with me, as it would have helped immensely. In response, one of my companions turned to the nearest tree and started to break off part of a limb. I physically felt the pain the tree went through, and I turned around and confronted him about it. He left the limb half-broken off of the tree, and I told him if he was going to break it, then to break it cleanly. After all, a half-detached limb can’t grow back properly. I was upset for the rest of the day because of his ignorance.
While he thought he was being kind by trying to find me a walking stick, he was actually causing a tree unnecessary pain. And yes, trees can feel pain. They are living creatures, just like we are. Every living creature can feel pain. Most people go through life ignorant of this fact, so, of course, they find it easy to cut down forests or trample flowers without a single thought to the harm they are doing.
We live in an interconnected world – all living beings are part of this immense web of life, in this biosphere. To forget that, to forsake that, is to blind yourself to the beauty of the world around you.
Christianity and other Abrahamic faiths teach an ignorance of this. They teach that humans are meant to hold dominion over the earth, over the other animals that reside here. That we are supposedly the masters of the planet.
That is a load of crap. We are masters of nothing except our own beings. So many people fail to respect the earth and the lives that reside within the earth, it is no wonder so many animals are going extinct, hunted for their fur or their tusks or their meat. It is no wonder our oceans are being filled to the brim with plastic garbage. Until we start taking responsibility, each and every one of us, for the harm we have been doing to the planet, and taking steps to correct that harm, then the earth will continue to slowly strangle under the weight of our presence.
If I had to choose one thing that ties me to Paganism, one thing that will always tie me to Paganism, it is the love I hold for the earth we live on. The earth is ancient, and it thrives with life. To ignore the wisdom of the earth is ignorance in its highest iteration. I refuse to be ignorant. I refuse to live a life waiting for some messiah to come and save me. Instead, I embrace the Old Ways, the ways that honor and cherish the life of the earth and all of the life found within it. For my faith is a life-affirming faith, and I will not deny it.