I was in Bangkok a few days back and had a little extra time to spend. I was planning on meeting a friend for lunch, so wanted to avoid doing my usual favorite Bangkok activity: eating.
Instead, I took the BTS train in to Siam Square and went to the “fancy pants mall” (my nickname), also known as Siam Paragon. Inside Paragon is a large bookstore with a generously-sized English language section. I rarely go to a bookstore without a specific book in mind, so it’s a treat to decide to let myself buy something I have no need for….or didn’t know I needed.
Now I have sitting in my lap the 470 page collection of essays, “Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril.”
The editors (one of whom is a professor of philosophy at Oregon State University, I would like to mention) have posed the question Do we have a moral obligation to protect the future of a planet in peril?
Of course the answer is yes.
But they have divided to book into sections of why the answer is yes:
Yes, for the survival of humankind.
Yes, for the sake of the children.
Yes, for the sake of the earth itself.
Yes, for the sake of all forms of life on the planet.
Yes, to honor our duties of gratitude and reciprocity.
Yes, for the full expression of human virtue.
Yes, because all flourishing is mutual.
Yes, for the stewardship of God's creation.
Yes, because compassion requires it.
Yes, because justice demands it.
Yes, because the world is beautiful.
Yes, because we love the world.
Yes, to honor and celebrate the Earth and Earth systems.
Yes, because our moral integrity requires us to do what is right.
Each of these fourteen sections is addressed by six to nine authors. These voices represent a wide range. There is a piece by the Dalai Lama as well as an essay by one of my favorite science fiction authors, Ursula K. Le Guin. Words come from Thich Nhat Hanh as well as Pope John Paul II. The introduction is written by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Essay titles range dramatically:
"Something Braver Than Trying to Save the World."
"A Manifesto to North American Middle-Class Christians."
"Get dirty. Get Dizzy."
"The Universe Story and Planetary Civilization."
"Spray Glue Goes. Maggots Stay."
I had a lovely discussion earlier today with one of my clients, confirming our common belief that our most important purpose in life is to help others--people, animals, plants, land: our home. And that not only is it the most important, but it is the most gratifying activity one can pursue.
This book is a beautiful creation. Even holding it in my hands, not having read it, I feel good. Knowing there are so many brilliant minds in the world, all writing on the subject of caring for our home and future, reminds me that we each do have an impact.
Barbara Kingsolver authored one of the last essays in this compilation. I think the title of her piece could be a name for the whole book as a sort of handbook for inspiration: "How to Be Hopeful."