Response from Dean Moore on the California Wildfires
October 13, 2017
Dear Beloved Community,
The news from Northern California describes the worst fire in more than a century – a fire that has destroyed nearly 200,000 acres and killed at least 32 people, with the death toll still rising. The School of Theology community has many students, alums, families and friends in Northern California, and our prayers soar on their behalf. Neighborhoods, farms, and wineries have been devastated, and many hundreds of people are facing catastrophic loss. At the same time, first responders have been doing wonderful work, as have congregations and non-profits, propelled by compassion. In such a setting, we can pray and give, and many of you will give time and energy “on the ground.” All of us can carry the people and land of California in our hearts and daily actions. Such action is at the heart of faith and faithfulness.
We can also do more. We need to respond to the larger issues that surround us. While raging fires destroy the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and wipe out vast acres of land, the people of Puerto Rico are still living with limited and polluted water, lack of food and power and almost daily refusals and insults from the U.S. government. We need to continue holding them in prayer, as well as the victims and rebuilders in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the Virgin Islands, and beyond. We cannot lose our focus on caring for and acting communally and politically to address the issues that follow all of these terrible disasters. They are a collective cry of the Earth and its peoples for support and justice. We must respond to all communities that cry out for emergency and long-term help. The Latin American tradition of acompañar (accompaniment) has much to say to the human community at this moment. Individuals, congregations, and agencies need to find ways to respond now, and then commit to the long road of assisting and rebuilding communities and infrastructures for many years to come.
We can also do more. We can act for our fragile ecology. We can educate ourselves on climate change and the policies and practices that can contribute to stabilizing, slowing, and even reversing parts of the terrible downward spiral that WE have allowed the earth to enter. Without debating the scientific details in this moment, please be aware that, in this year of the worst hurricanes and worst fires, we are culpable. We are culpable in our collective refusal to believe and respond to the increasing extremes in weather – droughts, climate warming, melting ice caps, storm-building, and other extremes. As we travel the long road to assist devastated communities in addressing immediate and long-term needs, may we also travel the long road of responding to the cries of our earth. We CAN make a difference.
With despair, prayer, and hope,
Mary Elizabeth Moore