Letter: Climate change: denial, anger . . . acceptance

“I care so deeply about climate change, but I don’t know what I personally can do about it. I feel helpless, stalled and disconnected.”

There were the words of someone who recently came to me for help. As a longtime spiritual coach, I’ve learned that certain ways of interacting with Nature can assist people to find their own intrinsic nature and the very connection that she so desires — breaking through paralysis into direct productive action, along with others.

Before we get into the “how do we do this?” I’d like to suggest a deeper framework; a different lens from which to look:

We might look at the nature of grief — and then of trauma.

Grief. There are five stages of grief, proposed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I suspect that each of us is somewhere in those five stages in our relationship to the earth and climate change.  Since our bodies are all made of the same “stuff” as nature herself, we can’t help but resonate with her condition.

If Nature, that core essence which sustains our physical life, is in jeopardy — how can we not grieve? How can we not be traumatized? Perhaps this could be underneath some of the angers that are so prevalent in our society today. Perhaps the apathy that can be noticed is a separation from accepting the truth. Perhaps the overwhelming despair that can be felt is coming from a pain that is too deep to be acknowledged.

To feel our deep love for and connection to nature is an important first step.  We do not protect that which we don’t relate to and love.

So —- how do we step out of our denial; perhaps of our subconscious anger that we feel so helpless? We need to get into action of some sort; to find our particular part in this drama, and to play that part. It requires both deep introspection (this part is just between you and Nature) and the synergy of getting into action with others who care.

In Fauquier County, we’ve begun a model for this approach, both including measurable tangibles and the intangibles that are harder to measure (attitude, connection, harmony etc.) One of our members has already saved the county millions of dollars in the past few years in energy expenses. This is just a beginning of what is possible, both with government/businesses and with private homes. Another member is working on a sustainability model for universities that is ahead of the game and applicable to communities.  Other members are specialists in health, healing and dealing with psychological trauma. I play a personal part in assisting people to relate in a deeper way to nature herself —- and in doing so, to access that part of their own nature that can make the best contribution to the issue.

Are you interested in exploring this approach? If so, let us know of your interest at communitiesofpeace@gmail.com.

Gerry Eitner

President, Communities of Peace Foundation

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