The World We Have
The modern pace of extinction is a thousand times greater than the rate of extinction of species in the ancient times. If this trend continues, the loss of bio-diversity will be irreversible. Changes in the biosphere lead to the disruption of existing ecosystems in the world. Anthropogenic effects change animate and inanimate nature that surrounds it. Transformed environment negatively affects human life. Chemical pollution worsens people’s health while changes in species diversity lead to increase in the number of parasites that are well- adapted, and serve as infectious agents. The conclusion is obvious: due to the human activity that spans the world, the problem of environmental protection has become a global challenge. The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology by Thich Nhat Hanh highlights the ecological spirituality and calls people to transform the way of living radically and preserve Earth through their joint efforts and cooperation.
Buddhist teachings highlight peace and the necessity to root environmental ethics in human awareness and interrelatedness with the surrounding world. Thich Nhat Hanh encourages people to take social responsibility while carrying out the task of safeguarding the natural world. Enlightened being will help to restore and preserve the environment. Even if a man’s attempt to change the environment is insignificant, it will still bring a positive effect and minimize adverse ecological impact.
Thich Nhat Hanh highlights the fact that interbeing links people with each other since they share the same vital resources. The author points out how people’s choices, sometimes thoughtless, bring significant implications for the health and welfare of the world. However, if the trend of current consumption, car driving, and destruction of scarce, natural resources remains the same, the planet’s complete destruction is a likely outcome in this case. Terrifying outcome leads the global community into great fear. People do not fully realize that the earth will sooner or later cease to exist. Therefore, Buddhists encourage everyone to examine the global environmental issues from the perspective of impermanence.
As a species, human beings face perils living in a frightening reality. Thich Nhat Hanh tells the readers that the choice lies in their hands. The outcome will directly depend on people’s actions and their determination to change the world for better. With his gentle spirit, the author teaches one to overcome challenges and be ready to respond to the new environmental cataclysm in an effective manner. Concerned individuals are encouraged to embrace their interconnectedness and recognize impermanence as the basis for living in harmony and peace. Moreover, the author believes that every person has the power to resolve the environmental crisis in a proper manner.
Hanh encourages the global community to look deeply at its actions and minimize their adverse impact on the planet. Mindfulness calls out to people, trying to wake them up (Hanh 3). The best way to motivate people to protect the world’s environment is to prove and provide evidence that the current trend and indifference of people will eventually destroy the earth. Everybody has to decide what to consume and what to reject in order to keep the planet healthy. Conscious consumption is an ideal way to heal the world. As a spiritual family, the global community can successfully avert global warming through joint efforts and commitment. Otherwise, the social, environmental, and economic consequences of the failure will be felt for a long time (Orr 25).
The impermanence of things cannot serve as an excuse for unforgivable mistakes made by irresponsible people. Instead, the full engagement with the world is critical to its survival. Buddha’s wisdom encourages individuals to accept impermanence and recognize the inevitable death of civilization. Awakening, strength, and peace will bring people together, and there will no longer be any discrimination, prejudice, and hatred. Every individual is provided with an opportunity to use the available technology in an effective manner. It will help to save the beloved planet. The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology is a thoughtful and important message to millions of people regardless of their origin, race, and social status.
The book calls every person to treat the fragile and finite planet with care and mindfulness since the successful outcome can be reached only through the joint efforts of living creatures. Ecology and Buddhism are clearly linked with such aspects as survival and peace for all species on the earth. Working towards establishing the global ethics, prosperous planet and signing a peace treaty by all people is a task of top priority for today. Everyone bears personal responsibility for its successful resolution. Constant practice and human awareness of the earth’s fragility can produce necessary changes in the global, ecological situation.
Hanh urges not to react angrily to individuals perceived as villains. The energy a person needs has nothing to do with fear and rage. Instead, people have to demonstrate their understanding and compassion to the surrounding world. Individuals do not need to condemn each other. A person, who destroys the planet and his/her life, does it unintentionally. In the course of time, people want to escape unbearable pain and overwhelming loneliness. They need help, not blame and punishment. Thich Nhat Hanh thinks that only collective compassion and comprehension can liberate humankind (71).
The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology teaches individuals and world corporations how to prevent the massive destruction caused by their activity. Violations and thoughtless actions may cause overwhelming rage and anger in people. However, everybody can choose a personal, thoughtful way to deal with the challenges. Concerned individuals can transmit their enlightened and realistic view to the surrounding world. Under proper conditions, new culture can emerge.
China and the USA assure the world community to take radical actions and finally limit the emission of greenhouse gas, thus demonstrating their readiness to fight against climate changes globally and jointly. President Obama declares that the USA will move faster in reducing its level of pollution. In order to deal with the climate crisis, global efforts and mutual agreement from all countries are required (Lederman). The growing, adverse impact of global warming and the increase in urban air pollution are other issues that prevent addressing the environmental challenge in a proper manner. They also lead to the poor health status of residents living in the developing countries. While the trend in sanitation and water issues has shown significant progress in the recent decades, the tendency of current environmental management and sustainability moves backward.
Regardless of their faith, background, and social status, individuals are encouraged to use energy-saving products and conserve renewable energy wherever it is possible (The Clinton Foundation). Joint and thoughtful actions will help save lives, reduce the suffering of millions of people worldwide, protect the environment, stimulate action, teach and inspire individuals to become entrepreneurs for good cause. Moreover, it is necessary to promote food security, healthy nutrition, use scarce water resources in an effective manner, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect ocean dead zones, old growth forests, urban fauna and flora (Winsome Constance Kindness).
In addition to the technical knowledge to solve the environmental issues, people need to have motivation and commitment to curb using fossil fuels once and for all. Therefore, Hanh calls for an awakening that will finally promote the sense of brotherhood and partnership among all people. Even if a person does little, his/her efforts are still valuable. Because of environmental degradation, the rapid decline of rare species and living creatures, global warming, water, and air pollution, the conscious society must heed the call of mindfulness that the Buddhist scholar and activist Thich Nhat Hanh has been promoting for years. Therefore, it is time to wake up and start living anew taking into consideration the fact that the planet is fragile and finite, and its destiny depends on the thoughtful human actions.
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