A Big Lesson from Iceland on Moving Beyond War

I have a brother who is married to an Icelander who is an artist. For years they lived in Chicago where she attended the Art Institute, painted, and held exhibits there, as well as in New York City and Iceland. 

A red circle shows the location of the potential eruption on the southwest of Iceland; note how close it is to the capital Reykjavik. Screenshot from GoogleMaps.

They agreed to move to Iceland after he retired from his work. I admired him for learning Icelandic in his seventies. As part of his 75th birthday celebration held in Chicago, he and his wife had a (short) public conversation in Icelandic and one native sitting behind me said afterward, “not bad.”

He wrote two days ago about the existential emergency Iceland is facing today. An entire town threatened by an underground volcano was evacuated in less than 12 hours.* He writes: 

An explanation of the sudden acceleration of geologic activity under Iceland. Video by GeologyHub. 

The last time a whole town was evacuated in Iceland was in 1973, when the Westman Islands had a huge eruption covering much of the city. People have returned there, and celebrated the 50th reunion of that event this summer. All had to be removed from the island by boat — including his wife’s current daughter-in-law, who was then two years old. 

Here comes the kicker that I think is applicable to all the wars occurring on our planet today: 

The one thing that is absolutely sure is that at a time like this, all Icelanders get together and open themselves to each other, offering places to stay and food for collection sites. As Anna says, the normal bickering of all about anything is stopped at a time like this, and all are pulling for all.

Volunteers help residents of American Samoa, following the tsunami of 2009. Photo by Casey Deshong. Wikimedia Commons.

“The normal bickering stops at a time like this….and all are pulling for all.” Isn’t there wisdom and gold in this observation? 

What gets humans to stop bickering? Palestinians and Jews, Ukrainians and Russians, Chinese and Taiwanese Chinese, left and right? What gets humans to cease bickering is a common emergency. 

Isn’t that what the Climate Change emergency offers us?  

To be continued.

*See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/nov/10/iceland-declares-state-of-emergency-over-volcanic-eruption-threat

See Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Brith of a Global Renaissance.

And Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.

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

Banner Image: The port of Vestmannaeyjabær, Iceland, which had to be evacuated in 1973 due to a volcanic eruption. Photo by Diego Delso. Wikimedia Commons. 

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that bickering stops when emergencies arrive and that Climate Change is such an emergency? What follows from that awareness?

Recommended Reading

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register

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3 thoughts on “A Big Lesson from Iceland on Moving Beyond War”

  1. Avatar

    Climate Change is a world existential crisis for our humanity and All living species… !

    May God’s Spirit of Love, Wisdom, Truth, Peace, Justice, Healing, Transformation, Strength, Creativity, Compassion… continue growing in our hearts with one another and Sacred Mother Nature/Earth…
    — Amen

  2. Avatar

    Matthew, have you heard of the Earthshot Prize, founded by Prince William and awarding 1,000,000 GBPs to global citizens who are actively working to fix our climate, revive our oceans, build a waste-free world, protect and restore nature and clean our air? It’s some really good news!

  3. Avatar

    We are comparing apples to oranges; Icelanders helping other Icelanders is completely different from Jews and Palestinians or Ukrainians and Russians. Similarly an actual volcanic eruption that everyone can see is quite different from climate change which sadly divides people in practically every country.

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