David Suzuki talks about the role of faith communities in protecting the environment at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto.
World-renowned Canadian scientist David Suzuki has challenged faith communities to get involved in the protection of the environment saying it is a spiritual issue that is reflected in various religious traditions that hold the earth as a sacred trust.
Mr. Suzuki, who is the long-running host of CBC’s The Nature of Things, told a packed audience gathered recently at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto that his interactions with aboriginal communities around the world have made him realize how all life is interconnected. Mr. Suzuki spoke at a forum organized by Faith and The Common Good, a non-governmental organization, which has launched Renewing the Sacred Balance, a program that integrates faith, spirituality, and ecology.
Mr. Suzuki said that when aboriginal people refer to the earth as mother “it’s not metaphorical or poetic, they meant it literally.” The earth is mother, he said, because people are created by the four sacred elements – earth, air, fire, and water. “There is no environment out there and we are here. We are the environment, and whatever we do to the environment, we do directly to ourselves.”
Aboriginal people, he said, “acknowledge that they are part of nature and they have responsibilities,” he said. “But now, suddenly, we live in a world that’s been shattered, where most of us look out and we see a mosaic of separate fragments or bits and pieces with no interconnection.”
He urged the faithful to take his Nature Challenge (see www.davidsuzuki.org), which lists 10 ways that people can conserve nature. It includes such simple tips as taking public transport or driving a fuel-efficient car.
Rev. Ted McCollum, incumbent at St. Paul (Anglican), Beaverton, Ont., attended the forum and said he would recommend that his diocese, Toronto, take part in the Nature Challenge and network with other faith groups and organizations advocating for the environment.
“How we treat the environment that God has given us reflects upon us,” he said in an interview. “If we destroy this gift, what does it say about us?”