United in Common Purpose
Just over a week ago, an op-ed appeared in the New York Times entitled “A Republican Case for Climate Action.” I admit that when I first read it, I thought it was just a part of the continued struggle of competing factions within the Republican Party. However, the authors, all former heads of the EPA appointed by Republican Presidents, weren’t really saying anything about partisanship. Sure, there were plenty of “conservative” buzzwords thrown in like “free mark solutions,” “common sense solutions” and “trusting in the innovation of American business,” but the substance and even the proposals discussed in the brief piece were anything but partisan.
The article touched on the scientific conclusions trumpeted by the environmental community and alluded to the moral obligations triumphed by the faith community.
The truth is this is not a partisan, ethical, scientific or even religious debate anymore. If you consider yourself conservative, centrist, liberal or even if you despise labels; if you come at the problem as a scientist, as a Christian, a Jew, A Muslim, a Buddhist or an Atheist; if you are a parent, a grandparent, a brother or a sister; if you think about preservation, progress, development or advancement; if you worry about future struggles, economic opportunity, predictable weather patterns or long term sustainability; if you wonder what historians will say about us, what our friends will think of us, how our adversaries will perceive us or whether our children will blame us, then you are bound to the fate of this struggle no matter what the party affiliation box says on your voter registration card.
Fifty years ago this summer, President John F. Kennedy said, “Our most basic common link, is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s futures, and we are all mortal.” Indeed, our fate is bound to one another and to the choices we make that will forever preserve and protect or undermine and destroy that which we hold dear.
Rabbi Tarfon said, “The day is short, the labor vast, the toilers idle, the reward great, and the Master of the house is insistent. It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it” (Avot 2:20-21). The master of our house, the temperate climate on which we depend, grows more insistent with each coming day, and we are bound by common purpose to work towards a sustainable society. It is upon each of us to partake or our task will never be complete.
Image Courtesy of Larvatus Prodeo.