Not for ourselves alone

Just before the pledge break many of us celebrated the holy  day of Yom Kippur. We read together:

Not for ourselves alone do we pray,
not for ourselves alone
but for all Your children

There’s much to ask for all God’s children: peace,  prosperity, good health, wise counsel for our leaders. But the most basic is to  have a world to bequeath to our and everyone’s children. For those of you who  care deeply about the right to life, a world that still makes life possible and  for as many as possible. The most fundamental threat to that is the worldwide  assault on our environment.

I pray our leaders will get the message that we need to protect America. There needs to be an America tomorrow and beyond. There needs to be a climate that produces our food, not savage storms that washes our crops away, not a climate that turns America back to enormous inland seas and swamps the ocean’s coasts, not a climate that burns off  the oxygen, and kills the fish we’d eat in oceans, lakes and streams. Global warming is a threat to everyone and every thing we hold dear.

I pray that our leaders will understand that we, their constituents, are willing to look at windmills without having to travel to Holland, that we are willing to share the expense of conversion from fossil fuels to others that do not threaten our environment.

An ancient rabbi once asked “If I am only for myself, who am I?” I pray that we accept responsibility for others and not condemn the future of America and the future of humanity to the barren consequences of our selfish insistence on every last tax break now, and curses for the future.

The scientists tell us major changes are happening in the  oceans that will affect all life on earth. Major changes are happening to the coastlines. Major changes are happening in the droughts and the storms. I pray that our countrymen will not be so arrogant as to pronounce a pox on the science until it is too late to be denied, and too late to be fixed.

Here’s George Mason, one of the architects of our  Constitution and our liberties, telling the Constitutional Convention on May 31, 1787:

“We ought to attend to the rights of every class of the people.  He had often wondered at the indifference of the superior classes of society to this dictate of humanity & policy, considering that however affluent their circumstances, or elevated their situations, might be, the course of a few years, not only might but certainly would, distribute their posterity throughout the lowest classes of Society. Every selfish motive therefore, every family attachment, ought to recommend such a system of policy as would provide no less carefully for the rights – and happiness of the lowest than of the highest orders of Citizens.”

I pray that people will stop thinking that it is perverse to think of others, including our offspring and their children. I pray for an end to this epidemic of selfishness that grips too large a part of our country and that we all return to the honor, the public spirit, the concern for others, that we were bequeathed.

Not for ourselves alone, therefore,
Not for ourselves alone,
but for all Your children
do we invoke your Love

– This commentary was broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, October 25, 2011.

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