Interfaith is Earth-hearted
I joined URI Southern Africa Regional Co-ordinator and a number of others in a morning Beach Clean up organised by United Nations Environment Program and sponsored by Plastics SA.
It rained, and the UNEP head, Erik Solheim, got drenched as he told us about the global strides in awareness and care that are being made. He declined an umbrella “unless you have one for everybody”. It was a small gesture but it warmed my heart. Leadership is displayed in the little moments.
The beach clean-up happened in the pouring rain and on a thin stretch of beach because it was high tide. But the fact that it happened at all was important because it highlights once again our need to take our planet seriously and understand the immense impact that we have, and potentially an impact for good. The beach is about 20 bags cleaner today. That made a difference. With our heads close to our knees as we scoured the sand for trash, conversation turned to the drought and the fact that it is not over yet despite the recent good rains and dams that are now more than 50% full. We still need to be mindful, steward our resources, and not be wasteful. We wondered how we can hold on to the lessons of the drought, when the crisis is over.
You might wonder what all this has to do with Interfaith. The role of interfaith is to unite diverse people. Unity comes about through understanding a common purpose. If there is one thing we have to do that benefits everyone, it is just this – to care for the planet. Native Americans regard the river as brother, because it has carried them for miles in wooden canoes. The trees are sisters, because they have provided fruit and shelter.
Buddhists tell us that every plate of food is proof that the Universe continues to support our existence – and food comes from the Earth. Every religious belief or traditional expression speaks of honouring the Earth in one way or another. There is one little thing we can all do to further our common purpose. Clean up. Just that. If United Nations can do it, so can we. If we can clean up together, we will be able to live in peace together. May peace prevail on Earth.
Berry Behr, Chairperson, Cape Town Interfaith Initiative