An Ecologic Ethic

Posted by Marcia Penner Freedman

The idea of creating a global ecologic ethic, as described by Aldo Leopold in his essay The Land Ethic, has been running around in my brain.  I think humanity is ready to pull it off.

  • We are finally acknowledging that the Earth is mortally ill and that we bear some responsibility for its present condition.
  • We are finally ready to take care of the Earth, and hopefully reverse the effects of our bad ecologic habits.
  • The promising ecospirituality movement is helping religious and non-religious people around the globe recognize the need for us to change our concept of and our relationship to nature.
  • Earth Day, since its inception in America on April 22, 1970, has grown to almost 200 countries participating worldwide each year. That’s hundreds of millions of people, maybe a billion. That is a lot of people collectively paying attention to the environment.

The ecologic ethic I imagine would begin with a spiritual mantra: nature is sacred and worthy of care.

Something that is sacred has the power of arousing feelings of reverence and awe, drawing to it devotion and respect. These emotions can affect how we treat each other and, consequently, how we treat the earth.  These emotions call on us to act with compassion, integrity and charity. They call on us to exercise modesty.

I envision a kind of ecologic Sabbath, a weekly, apolitical, non-activist Earth Day of simplicity. No productivity or consumption of natural resources, a time when we buy and sell nothing. A day we share our rest with nature.

Our Earth Day Sabbath would be spent in celebration of Nature’s inherent order, spending time with family and friends, reading and reflecting about the universe and studying ecologic themes. It would be a day obliging us to renounce the use of tools and gadgets and electronics of every kind for twenty-four hours.

The idea of an Earth Day Sabbath came to me after speaking with an Orthodox Jewish woman about nature and spirituality and how she sees their connection to the traditional Jewish Sabbath – which runs from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

These are her words…

It’s a time to give nature a rest. I have a friend who won’t walk on the grass on Shabbat.  See that fly buzzing around and annoying me?  I would not bother him. He would not be swatted on Shabbat.  It’s also about conservation. You do all your cooking ahead of time. You mete out the food. You can’t be shopping for more. You can’t consume more than you’ve prepared.  It’s a lesson in self-restraint.  Makes you feel stronger as an individual. You feel disciplined, connected. It makes me feel connected to God, but not only God. When I am lighting my Sabbath candles, I know that women all over the world are lighting their candles at sundown.  Powerful – it unifies you.  It’s a spiritual connection.

Touching Nature is taking a holiday break until January 4, 2018.  Happy New Year to you all.

3 thoughts on “An Ecologic Ethic”

  1. I love the connection between the laws of Shabbat and the dicta of conservation and respect for the earth. Nothing new under the sun.

    1. I so agree. The whole time I was reading the beginning I thought of Shabbat at my friends house. It fit so perfectly.

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