It turns out that we are all in some stage of grief about what is happening to our planet—whether we are conscious of that grief or not. Journalist Richard Schiffman writes about this phenomenon in “The Five Stages of Environmental Grief” included in the 4th edition of “Words and Violence”—one of the Charter’s educational programs. It became glaringly apparent in-vivo to one of our lead volunteers and “Words and Violence” steward, Barbara Kaufmann, when she staffed a booth for the Charter for Compassion Environmental Sector at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association annual exhibition at their headquarters in Wisconsin.
Because the problem is earth-sized, (soul sized, really) we can stagger in overwhelm at the magnitude of what we face. And because we can feel so small in comparison, we sometimes cope with defense mechanisms to keep from feeling the grief. Every person Barbara met and spoke to at the MREA was in some stage of grief and feeling things like—anger, overwhelm, hopelessness, pain, despair... and some were even using denial, indifference or distraction to cope. They felt stuck. They felt helpless. As a former nurse, she recognized the stages of grief Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified in those facing a loss of life. So she listened. She understood. She validated. She congratulated them for their capacity to love and the magnitude of that love for their planet—for that is the truth of where and why these feelings arise. And she told them about the Charter for Compassion and the hope intrinsic in this movement to spread compassion over the earth. She felt the collective pain and she vowed to do something to help thaw the frozen grief, for grief that is stuck in the human heart harms and prevents action. To move beyond the grief, we must first acknowledge it and feel its impact.
“Love This Place,” is a collage of visual poetry that forms an homage and ode to the earth. Produced for Earth Day 2015, it’s designed and destined to take you places that will thaw the frozen grief you may not even know you have, bring you soaring to the heights of raw and painful beauty and leave you wrapped in the warmth of awe and love. Watch it at your own risk.
Last year, the “Words and Violence” Project, a program of Voices Compassionate Education, the Pedagogical Institute and educational arm of the Charter for Compassion, released its 4th edition. The emphasis in the 4th edition is on Mother Earth, and how resilient she has been in the wake of the endless ways we bully her. We've all heard stories of climate change, deforestation, global warming, pollution, and the misuse of our natural resources. This new edition helps concretize the planet's reality, and offers hope for a new beginning, with ways to thaw our frozen grief, and transform our concerns into motivation and action. What will you do for your Earth?