What Can We Do In Response to the Amazon Catastrophe?

We are considering the suffering in the Amazon forest and how best to respond to it.  Small farmer and poet mystic and prophet Wendell Berry advises us to “Fight the worst with the best.”  Since Jung says the mystics represent “what is best in humanity” it would seem that listening to the mystics who are also prophets is a very wise thing to do.  Consider the teachings of these three women:

Hildegard of Bingen

“Tending the Cosmic Tree.” Hildegard of Bingen.

Hildegard, mystic, abbess, healer, and Doctor of the Church, wrote: “The Earth should not be injured, the Earth should not be destroyed!” For Hildegard humans are privileged to live in a “web of creation” but “if this privilege is misused, God’s justice permits creation to punish humanity.”  (41f)

Sister Dorothy Stang

“Sister Dot: A Modern Martyr”
Poster by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

This mystic, prophet and eco-martyr, gunned down in the Amazon rainforest by killers hired by the same forces that are setting fire to the forests now: “The death of the forest is the end of our lives.”  When she knew her life was in danger she was advised by many to leave the country, but responded: “I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.”

Naomi Klein

“Naomi Klein at Berkeley.” Photo by
Moizsyed, Wikipedia.

Author, activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein calls for a “full-throated debate about values”—about what we owe to one another based on our shared humanity, and what it is that we collectively value more than economic growth and corporate profits.”  (50)  She reminds us that the “internal work is crucial as we come together in resistance and transformation.”  (51) 

Just recently in these Meditations I shared the teaching of both Hildegard and Rabbi Heschel about the importance of remembering awe, wonder, gratitude—the Via Positiva.  Now more than ever we must fill up on the Via Positiva so we know what it is we are fighting for, and to bring the joy with us as we battle our own darkness and those forces wrapped in denial and darkness. 

What are some actions we can take?  Here is one: Stop eating beef. If raising cattle is the reason ranchers are setting fire to the rainforest then the reason for raising cattle needs to be eliminated.  That means we quit eating beef.  It’s good for the Earth and it saves on our limited water supplies and is healthy for your own body.

See Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times, 50, 51.
See Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, Jen Listug, The Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
Banner image: “Earth Conservation” Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Queries for Contemplation

Be with the words of Hildegard; of Sister Dorothy; of Naomi Klein: How do they speak to your grief and to your moral outrage?  And to what you can give birth to?

Recommended Reading

By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.” 
~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope
“The creation of the Order of the Sacred Earth is a magnificent step forward for humanity.”  ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of Way of Passion and The Hope.

Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century

Author Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.

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13 thoughts on “What Can We Do In Response to the Amazon Catastrophe?”

    1. Gail Ransom

      Thank you, Ann, for your work. Changing a person’s cosmology can be a challenge, but it is the place to start. All thought patterns follow from there.
      Thank you for your good work.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  1. Avatar
    Dr.Mary Gayle Floden-Selfridge

    Dear Matthew Fox,
    I have followed your wisdom over many years now,from before the Pope silenced you. And when you responded with” before I was interrupted” and continued the Mystical Christ message. I look for ward to your Mystic/Prophet course and am delighted now as an elder to walk the Via Positiva with you once again. I was a Dominican at one time and do believe we are in our hearts and souls forever even after we leave.
    The world is blessed to hear your words and I hold you in my thoughts and prayers as you continue to share your wisdom and help the Mother Earth to heal and for us to heal as well,blessings, Mary Gayle Floden- Selfridge,R.N.,Ph.D.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Mary Gayle,
      Thank you for sending your greetings to Matthew and offering your blessings to this present work. Those who have been with Matt’s work over time bring a wisdom and stability that under-gird us all. Thank you for staying with us.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

  2. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew for being a voice for the Amazon forest and the non-human beings, animals and plants, who are being burned alive. And also thank you for being a voice for the tribal people who do not have quick means to get away from a fast moving fire. I worked in the Amazon forest with a tribe struggling to save it, and so this is very personal to me. My sorrow is unconsolable.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Kristal,
      Thank you for sharing your personal connection to the fires in the Amazon with us. Your words impart a reality that is painful to imagine and difficult to forget. While your grief may be inconsolable, it can be shared and in doing so, energize more hearts towards stopping this holocaust. Thank you for your work in the Amazon and for opening your heart to us.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team.

  3. Avatar

    Dear Brother Matthew,
    From the time I first encountered you and your amazing friends, I have found hope and meaning. As we in our Active Hope group in Buffalo are facing the encroaching fires of extinction, we are about to embark on the Via Negativa, so that we may shed the destructive shroud of Mammonism and enter the Cloud of Unknowing, trusting in the emerging Via Transformativa to bring new life to our beloved Mother Earth and us, her creatures. Thank you for providing the roadmap.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Carol,
      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your work in Buffalo to address our ecological crisis through the power of shared mysticism and intentionally moving through the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality. May your work thrive and unseat the powers of Mammon!
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  4. Avatar

    Ceasing to eat beef is not the answer. Changing the source your beef comes from can be regenerative. Grasslands evolved with grazing hooved animals that are integral to the renewal of grassland ecosystems. Local “grass finished” (as contrasted with “grass fed” since all beef consumes grass at some point) beef avoids supporting rainforest destruction and confined animal feeding operations which are practices harmful to the climate. Ask the farmer or purveyor for clarity. I have personally witnessed the renewal of habitats and water tables when livestock are properly managed with adaptive planned grazing.

    1. Phila Hoopes

      Dear Christina,
      It’s good to hear another agro-ecological voice! Yes, indeed, knowing the source of your beef can be regenerative if your chosen farmer practices holistic management/adaptive planned grazing. Most people, however, don’t know about this…a *massive* public education campaign is required there…so in this crisis, in a culture where the majority buy their beef at big-box stores, conventional chain groceries, or fast-food franchises, not knowing or caring where it comes from, it’s simplest just to say “don’t eat beef.”
      Thank you for putting out this deeper perspective!
      Phila Hoopes
      Blog Coordinator

  5. Avatar

    Another helpful and inexpensive practice is to look for coffee that is not just organic and free trade, but also shade grown. That encourages the growing of coffee under the rainforest canopy instead of in fields created from cleared forests. Every small step adds up. Trader Joe’s has it.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Michele,
      Thanks for writing and thanks for the tip on shade grown coffee at Trader Joe’s. I am definitely buying my coffee there from now on, Starbucks had shade grown for a while. If enough of us asks for it at our favorite store, its possible shade grown could be even more available.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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