Freedom to Transcend "Being Realistic"

Rabbi Michael Lerner

Our Hasidic masters pointed out that the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, can also be understood as the narrow place of consciousness. To be a slave is to only see the small picture placed in front of you by the powerful. Understood in that way, the liberation struggle is a process that must continue from generation to generation.

When faced with the enormity of the environmental crisis advanced industrial societies have played a major role in creating„ the temptation is to take a little piece of it and see what we can do. Recycle here, stop fracking there, oppose a new oil pipeline that will likely leak out damage somewhere else.  Yet for every struggle won, the dynamics of capitalist economies with their necessity to continually find new raw materials and create new markets (in part by convincing us to “need” more and different from what we already have)  guarantees that new and bigger earth-destruction will eventually wear many of us down and lead to a despairing passivity.

That’s why Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives have advanced the ESRA—Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would require the biggest corporations to prove a satisfactory history of environmental responsibility in order to do business in the U.S  .

As we campaign for that, we need, in addition to the thousands of local projects to save the planet, a campaign for a New Bottom Line—so that every aspect of our economic and political lives, corporations, government policies, our educational system, our legal system, are judged “efficient, rational or productive” not to the extent that they maximize money and power (the Old Bottom Line) but to the extent that they maximize love and generosity, environmental sanity and sustainability, and enhance our capacity to transcend a narrow utilitarian or instrumental attitude toward Nature and to respond to it with awe, wonder and radical amazement, cherishing it rather than just exploiting it.

Unrealistic? Yes. So has every liberation struggle and every attempt to move beyond the narrow consciousness of what is possible that has been drummed into our heads by the Pharoahs of every age. Passover  must become the time to replenish our energies to become the agents of an expanded consciousness that can envision and then create a world that lives in harmony with God’s gift to us of planet Earth.

Author bio: 

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, invites readers to read the ESRA—Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and to join with him in building public support for it. www.tikkun.org/esra.

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