Being a Jew holds many responsibilities. Environmental awareness, concern, and taking care of our planet is one of them.
Trees are a huge concern, and there is a holiday dedicated to them, those wise, sages of the earth, all knowing, holding life and secrets, that their trunks, branches and bark contain.
Agricultural festivities acknowledge the importance of nature, crops, land, tilling, and the fruits of the land are celebrated with their importance in our daily lives. Seasonal changes affect crop growth, and celebrations acknowledge the force of land, earth, and its life-giving, life-saving bounties we receive from it
Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, is a vital force within Judaism. It relates to our cognizance of protecting and safeguarding not only humanity, but also Earth and its environment.
Global warming is a constant topic of discussion among Jewish leaders. Organizations and groups communicate together, roundtables, in order to gain perspective on the environment and how it affects us now, and will affect generations to come. Facilitators speak, lecture, use charts and videos, recognizing, validating, the necessities to forge agreements within social, communal, economic, financial, fossil fuel issues, and other elements, in order to sustain, harbor, and protect humanity and Earth from environmental disasters.
One disaster, are the oceans and the trash that is dispensed within the waters, the waves carrying it hundreds, often thousands of miles, into its depths, and reaching the edges of other countries. There have been methods undertaken in order to try to eliminate the pileups of trash, infecting marine life, shipping boats, pleasure boats. There have also been community forces at work.
Local groups in most cities, that are bordered by oceans, lakes, rivers, even ponds, congregate together in order to use their waste collecting products, and band together in order to collect the garbage, the human waste, the plastics, the discarded food, paper products, styrofoam products, soda cans, beer bottles, disposable diapers, and so much more.
Collecting garbage, trash, is a part of the whole, as far as the Jewish responsibility of repairing the world, Tikkun Olam. It is an illlumination of protecting lands, oceans, the Earth, and the sky (the air we breathe). Without these collective efforts the mass pollution of waste within land and water, sky and life, would accelerate, immensely, through the carelessness of humans.
On my walks by the river, a lake, bird habitat, or the canyons, I see plastic bags hanging from tree branches, garbage, literally floating in the river. There is food waste thrown in lakes, ponds, and wildlife habitats. I often see trash thrown to the side of walking paths, people uncaring, unconcerned about how their refuse affects the land, the wildlife. Animals can, and do, die from eating the dryed, decaying contaminations.
When possible, I pick up what I can, as I carry a bag with me when I walk. It isn’t always possible to do that, unfortunately.
I try my best, to keep the land, and its inhabitants safe, protected, as much as I can. I am only one person, one Jewish individual, who believes in Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, the land, the river, the wildlife habitats, in my own community. For me, repairing the world doesn’t constitute sacred texts, although I do read them, within my Jewish life, but it epitomizes the social responsibility we all have, as humankind, to repair and replenish our earth, the Earth, our planet, with constructive efforts aimed at keeping us, and our lands, healthy and safe from harm.
I know I am not the only one who cares, deeply, for the here and now, but also concerned for future generations. I also realize that it isn’t only Jews who advocate this philosophy. All religions encourage environmental awareness and protection. One does not have to be religious, or have a religious belief in order to care for the planet.
Humankind, human kind, exhibits its concern, and awareness. We are all one, under the sun.
“Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory, or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible––and there is still so much work to do.’ @BarackObama, on Twitter, today.
Repairing the world of injustice, racism, and oppression, is of extreme importance. Acknowledging why Black Lives Matter, supporting their injustices, including crimes and murders against them, economic and financial repressions, etc., and listening to what they have to say, is the least we can do. It is imperative we come together to repair, care, and envelop black lives.
Yes, I have a love affair with trees, and have since childhood. It began when I was a child in Queens, New York, and on outings to Central Park, with my parents. The wonder, the awe, the pure bliss that I felt, surrounded by those beautiful sentinels, masterpieces of the landscape, overflowed within me. I felt alive, looking at them, and a sense of something innate, that I cannot describe, to this day.
Those childhood memories were the foundation of my adoration of trees, and their connections to land, habitat, and the beauty of their structural assists.
My senses continue to hold, envelope all of the beauty of the landscapes before me. Childhood visuals were imprinted, implanted within my psyche. I love their scents, and their often weathered bark, striated from the elements they have endured. I love their colorful rainbows during autumn, and their rough appearance during wintertime, and their softness that the branches hold, during spring and summer, with leaves flowing in the breeze. Whether they may have collapsed, arched into forms that seem unimaginable, seeing their branches strive to embrace the earth, and continue on with their lives, brings me indescribable comfort.
I am in another world, when surrounded by trees. I breathe in their serenity, inhaling, exhaling, mindful of the moment, and moments, before me. Trees bring me strength, peace, continuity through the days, whether negative or positive, trees revive me from the mundane of daily living, setting me free from the ordinary. Their very presence, their existence, connects me to nature, and I revere them, giants, sages of the earth. Trees evoke emotions that escape from me. Wonderstruck is not dramatic, or strong enough, of a word used to describe how I feel about them. My love affair with them, is endless.
I speak through photography. It is one of the only ways I know how to incorporate my thoughts and feelings. I visually try to express what my heart feels, within specific situations.
Dark and light, black and white, dusk to dawn, is a minute way of my expressing emotions felt by current events.
Extreme negativity can result in positivity. We have seen some of this happening, the past several days. Horrors have been depicted through various actions that are being implemented to quell police brutality.
Police budgets are being cut, and the monies distributed to community needs within cities, to help reinforce mental health, housing, drug abuse, education, job stimulus, and other necessary, improvement standards.
We shall see where all of this takes us. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, baby steps can turn into yards, miles, of change in attitude, and police reform, acknowledging the atrocities against blacks.
Those racial atrocities affect all of us. Every fiber of our being receives the systemic effects, whether some of us want to admit it, or not.
Voices need resounding, regarding the vital issues of black injustice and brutality, echoing with courage, strength, and truth. There is no in between.
The dark and the light, the black and the white, dusk to dawn, we can rise up!
I have had several individuals, who I have known for a short period of time, ‘friends’ on social media, individuals I know in real life, through others, but after the past few days, I do not call them my friends.
To have had them violate my social media page with ugliness, prose that is anti ethical, and the antithesis, of my beliefs in humanity, angers me. But, it does not only anger me, it disappoints me, as a human being, from one human to another. In my mindset, we are all one, under the sun. There is no separation of that fact.
I am white, but not privileged, in the current sense of the meaning. I am Jewish, and live through the antisemitism illuminated worldwide. Separation and inequality are not a part of my being.
The racial disparities that have had black lives oppressed for over 400 years continues to rear its ugly head, its abhorrent soul, its appalling attitude, and its violence. Black Lives Matter. Yes, they do. And, the Black Lives Matter movement has never said, or believed, that only black lives matter. They believe all lives matter. BUT, within that context, black lives are being repressed, brutally beaten, killed (even by police), bullied, demeaned, economically depressed, and disregarded as human life. Black lives need support, need to be listened to, need to be heard, as their struggle, and the danger in their lives is real. The indifference is horrendous.
Banksy’s latest work, pictured below, along with his statement, reflects those issues:
“People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs.
“This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”
I will leave you with words that Elie Wiesel once said, an excerpt from Elie Wiesel’s Acceptance Speech, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1986:
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. Action is the only remedy to indifference.”