Environmental Justice and Spiritual Insecurity
As a follow-up to Rowan’s post on Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining in West Virginia, I want to share the process and one result from a recent theological reflection. As background, you should know that for the last several years Washington Office staff have met approximately once per month to contemplate our views on a particular policy issue or arena. A few weeks ago, together with a few special guests involved in the partnership between the UU Ministry for Earth and the UUA, we focused on the subject of environmental justice.
We used a reflection process learned in seminary by a colleague; I’m sorry to say that we don’t have more proper attribution than that. It consists of five questions (and could easily be used by any congregational social justice group wanting to go deeper!):
1. What’s the problem?
2. What’s the source of the problem?
3. What’s the solution?
4. What’s the source of the solution?
5. How do we get there?
One thing from our discussion stuck with me in particular. In the course of discussing the source of the problem, someone used the phrase “spiritual insecurity” to describe one of the factors which drives materialistic overconsumption. We speculated that this insecurity comes from a lack of connection, whether that be to God, humanity, nature, or what have you. When we’re not grounded, we tend to treat everything and everybody–including our own selves–worse.
I identify as a religious humanist, and I can definitely attest that I feel most spiritually secure when I feel connected to other people. I am grateful for the family, friends, colleagues, and congregants in my community. Yet I also feel a sense of connection with all people in the world, based largely on my ethical and Unitarian Universalist beliefs about the commonality and value of all people. Thus other people’s suffering is also a source of spiritual insecurity, which can be overcome only by my actively working to end oppression.
What does spiritual security look like for you?