Hurricane Ian, Community Building & Waking Up about Climate Change

Our hearts and concerns go out to all those undergoing the massive hurricane Ian making its way through Florida.  It is inspiring to see so many workers are rising to the occasion to rescue people and to replace electricity and more.  One hopes the same is happening in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and other places severely affected. 

Hurricane Ian destroyed a cross-section of Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, forcing patients from nursing homes and hospitals, and cutting off a barrier island. WPLG Local 10

At the same time, we must make note that this tragedy is not just a “natural catastrophe.”  Its severity is partly due to the warming of the seas, a warming that is penetrating deeper and deeper into the oceans with the result that hurricanes are becoming more and more severe and the amounts of rain falling becoming more and more devastating.  

It is due to climate change.

A crisis like a hurricane brings people together to combat a common foe.  (The same is true of wild fires in the West.)  A hurricane does not ask if one is a Republican or Democrat, a believer or a non-believer.  All are endangered.  The very word community comes from two Latin words meaning “sharing a common task together.  The task of preparing for a common calamity and cleaning up afterwards can bring on community–and we need community today. 

Floridians assess the damage from Ian as community search and rescue efforts continue. CNN.

But there is another dimension to the Florida emergency that needs to be told.  Back in 2016, I was invited to be part of an Interfaith conference in Longwood, Florida, on “Faith, Compassion and Climate Change” sponsored by several churches.  (I was surprised to see that the Roman Catholic Church was not among them.)  Indigenous peoples spoke; scientists spoke; I spoke.  And we gathered in small groups to discuss what we could do better to awaken people to the realities of climate change.

I was shocked to learn that the Floridian governor, Rick Scott (now a senator), had just that week declared that no government employee was ever again to use the word “climate change” in any official e mail or letter.  He jettisoned the word!  (Just as fundamentalists elected to the school board in HuNew Hampshire many years ago decreed that no public school teacher was allowed to use the word “imagination” in the classroom.)

Maria Bartiromo, Mornings With Maria on Fox Business, scoffs at “politicization” of Hurricane Ian’s devastation with references to climate change.

Might the current Floridian hurricane allow politicians to 1) talk and think about climate change?  and 2) get together with other legislature leaders to plan what they can do about it?  This includes the governor who identifies as Roman Catholic–but I wonder: Has he even read Pope Francis’ excellent encyclical on the topic, “Our Common Home”?  Maybe it is time to do so.

How many more two-by-fours to the head in the form of hurricanes and wild fires do certain politicians need to acknowledge this sign of our times, climate change?

See Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, Jennifer Listug, David Korten, Brian Swimme, et. al, Order of the Sacred Earth.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: A U.S. Coast Guard aircrew conducts overflights around the Fort Myers area in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Sept. 29, 2022, looking for people in distress, scope of damage, and potential pollution. U.S.Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kruz Sanders on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that it’s time that ALL politicians and ALL political parties start talking together about what we can do to address climate change and to lessen the common effects of climate change on our common Mother Earth?

Recommended Reading

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“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.

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17 thoughts on “Hurricane Ian, Community Building & Waking Up about Climate Change”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you begin by brining to our attention, Hurricane Ian. You also say that weather as a whole is becoming more violent and devastating due to climate change. I have seen this myself in the town where I live in which, 20 years ago, when I moved here, we had snow every winter–once so much we almost weren’t able to have church. And the fire season has become year round and more violent and extreme. It is due to climate change. But then you say, “A hurricane does not ask if one is a Republican or Democrat, a believer or a non-believer. All are endangered. The very word community comes from two Latin words meaning “sharing a common task together.”–and that’s a good thing. But then, on the other hand, you point out how former Governor of Florida, Rick Scott (now a senator), has declared that no government employee is ever again to use the word “climate change” in any official e-mail or letter. So you ask us, “Do you agree that it’s time that ALL politicians and ALL political parties start talking together about what we can do to address climate change and to lessen the common effects of climate change on our common Mother Earth? AMEN Brother !!!

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    Our religious & spiritual beliefs clatter and vibrate. We stutter as we attempt to express our understanding intense events that rattle our consciousness & all our fixed illusions. Ian’s overpowering waves of motion flood our minds and bodies with so much emotion, all of our comfortable sets of coping routines and habitual activities are shaken. Now, with the sunrise we must begin our reflection anew of who we think we are. All the dislocations and change, some suddenly apparent and others more subtle, illuminate our minds and teach us viscerally how alive our planet is as it nudges our human species to evolve… moving too quickly, mindlessly, as we consume Mother Earth’s life-sustaining resources. Perhaps hurricanes and other climate change events are required to mirror to us what we ourselves have been doing — and catch our attention. Can we learn from all this that the gyrations in the waters and waves of our emotional being require conscious attention so we do not end up needlessly hurting one another?
    Courage, generosity and forgiveness from inside our core now are called to pour out. These virtues help us realize we are all made of the same stuff; we’re all part of Creation, Mother Earth. Her virtues remain over time. At unexpected times, She may flood us with waves and gyrations of intense emotion, awakening us to the understanding that we do not realize what we do to her — or to one another.

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    Come on politicians! We criticize many politicians because we realize that buried under the “toxic logic” of climate change ignorers lies the “universal sense” that climate change is happening.

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    FYI—the HERE button to take readers to Mr. Fox’s written transcripts are not activated on both September 13th or 30th. I love and prefer to read his marvellous writings! Please help to activate.
    Thank you,

    1. Phila Hoopes

      Brenda, thank you for alerting us. The links have been added; if you refresh your browser (or possibly you may need to clear your cache) they’ll show up for you. Our apologies; the DM assembly process is quite complex, and every so often an element gets missed. Thank you for your patience!
      Phila Hoopes
      Blog Coordinator

  5. Avatar

    Another politician “ identifying “ as Catholic. In addition to the Opus Dei Supreme Court. Ugh.
    However I am part of a group in my Catholic Church called Just Faith, a small group meeting regularly to read, study and pray and talk about about ecological issues. We’ve studied Sacred Land, Sacred Air and Sacred Water. I’ve learned so much, especially from reading a book called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
    Totally recommend this book, written by an indigenous botany professor about her tradition.

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    Thank you Matthew for bringing more awareness to the existential reality of climate/environmental catastrophe due to decades of modern industrial pollution endangering our Mother Nature/Planet, the graceful source of all life with Her earth (harvest/food), water, air,… We have already lost thousands of living species as further dangerous warning signs, besides the more frequent and severe storms, fires, and droughts around the world. Serious environmental scientists and deep social thinkers (see / 87 Conversations) report that our patriarchal world industrial ‘civilization’ is imminently ending and that even our human species is in danger of extinction. I have been grieving the last three months when I became more aware/conscious of these realities. I had to work through my own denial, but still dealing with sadness in my grief process. I recently joined a support group led by Carolyn Baker, based on her recent book, “Undaunted: Living Fiercely into Climate Meltdown in an Authoritarian World” (2022). My contemplative faith continuous being important to me and knowing that God’s Spirit of Divine Love~Wisdom~Creativity~Healing~Peace~Beauty~Joy~Oneness… is always Present compassionately within and among us on our eternal spiritual journeys….

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    The question that I seek to answer is whether all peoples inside government or out will make the necessary changes to save civilization. The planet will survive but I am not sure people will. Technology may help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions but human nature resists change if it means giving something up. Our current lifestyles are not sustainable but who among those who love to fly will give up their cherished next trip to Africa or across the pond? Using LED lightbulb’s isn’t going to do it. The carbon footprint of Americans and wealthy Americans in particular is outrageous. Change begins with us!

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    Let us move to the middle and join hands
    Let us come to the place of reconciliation
    That our hearts may shake hands
    Here is redemption, restoration even re-Creation

    Somehow, we must help each other get beyond stupidity…

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    Rick Scott, despite being the CEO of a company that, for its time, engaged in the biggest Medicare/Medicaid fraud, was twice elected governor and then US Senator. Promptly on being inaugurated, he had the solar panels on the governor’s mansion removed. One of his last acts as governor was to get a law passed that allowed one of his friends to claim the whole beach in front of his house. I well remember his dictates to state employees about what they could not discuss. There are many people to whom immediate profits matter more than other people’s lives and futures; they have no sense of the future except what will benefit them. Sadly, too many of them are in power in government. All we can do is continue to tell the truth and to engage as much as possible in the processes of government–for example, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups keep alert to upcoming requests for oil and natural gas leases and notify us to write to the governing agency to protest; they also show us ways of putting pressures on banks and insurance companies. It is fine to march and protest, but there are economic ways of resisting as well. I don’t have enough money to invest, but all investors can divest from fossil fuel companies.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, Thank you for sharing the additional information concerning Rick Scott and for the suggestion ss of what we can do: the Sierra Club and other environmental groups keep alert to upcoming requests for oil and natural gas leases and notify us to write to the governing agency to protest; they also show us ways of putting pressures on banks and insurance companies and investors can divest from fossil fuel companies.

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    Thank you for this! I wish more people would read Laudato Si, and understand the generous wholistic stewardship Pope Francis advocates for the human family, that we help protect and nurture our Earth.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Martina Nicholson, Thank you for your comment! I too wished more people would read Laudato Si, and understand the wholistic stewardship Pope Francis !!!

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    Hello Matthew, I appreciate your spiritual messages in your books. However, I was taken back a few notches upon reading this article. You devoted one short paragraph (five lines) expressing your sympathies to the people in Florida. The rest of the article was diverted to propagandizing a political issue of the far, deep left. You wrote:
    “At the same time, we must make note that this tragedy is not just a ‘natural catastrophe.’”
    This is true, but it was not caused by the ‘global cooling’ of the 60s-70s, or the ‘global warming’ of the 80s-90s, or ‘climate change’ of the 21 century. Nature had a lot of help to create Ian. You may want to research the low cloud cover in the skies created by chem-trails almost daily. Hmmm.
    I know you mean well, and so do I.

  12. Avatar

    I too wish more people, especially those identifying as Christian, would read Laudato Si. It’s by one of their own and it’s beautifully written. Yes, it’s time for political parties to address climate change and lessen its effects. All I can hope for at this point is that as communities rebuild from fires, hurricanes, and other climate-change-related disasters, they rebuild sustainably. That ought to be the law. Of course, the working class–generally the ones affected most by climate change–must be helped financially by the U.S. and state governments, so that they CAN rebuild sustainably. Other countries have done so after disasters.

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