Mundane & Spiritual in Climate Action
I’ve been searching for a way to represent and remind myself of the many aspects of our work in response to anthropogenic climate change and the needed transformation to sustainable ways of living. When we try to formulate goals or examples of actions, it has seemed we can easily get distracted or mis-communicate with others by mixing different aspects. Differences can seem to be disagreement when really they just represent different contexts for complementary concerns.
I like to represent things visually, and it occurred to me that much of that complexity could be represented as concerns or actions along three different dimensions (hence a 3 dimensional representation).
The full 3-D chart is in this file, but here's a description of the 3 axes of concern:
- Focus – Our concerns and actions may involve individuals, or communities, or encompassing our nation or world. Obviously these are not rigid distinctions, as community-based concerns involve individuals, and can be fostered or hindered by national policies or global events. But it seems to me we need to maintain an interest and concern for actions at all these levels.
- Scope – We live amidst a consuming exploiting society based on self interest and long to bring into being a long-term sustainable and compassionate one. We have to work where we and others live and find common ground for incremental improvements while also seeking more fundamental changes that will enable us to transition toward that vision to hold up the vision at the same time working for incremental. So it seems useful to keep in mind the need for incremental changes, those that can transition us away from our current predicament, and those that offer the hope of transformation.
- Plane – What most of us work with every day is the mundane material world of particulars. Mundane does not mean unimportant: our existence is dependent on air and food and bodies other mundane material things, and because it is so visible, we can hope that others will see the need for care for the mundane – so we hope for allies here. But it is not enough to focus on individual mundane needs. Though essential, they are enmeshed in complex systems, and those systems themselves are partly material but also reflect ideology and politics in complex ways, and our work has to address economics and philosophy that determine much of how the world operates for good or ill. Our ultimate concerns are values we seek to have represented in the world. For many of us, this what motivates our attachment to alternative economic or political system or community organization, so we need to continually remind ourselves of these ultimate values that motivate the work on the other planes of systems and the mundane.