Lately I’ve been feeling down about how religious people can neglect the environment or even feel environmental problems and suffering unimportant. Imam Khalid’s post today was encouraging. Imam Khalid Latif is NYU’s Muslim Chaplain and a shining beacon of compassion, fidelity, and hope for the religious and the progressive alike. He writes:
Our consumption is having a drastic impact on the world around us and it has an impact on people elsewhere. The over-consumption of the wealthiest nations, including our own, lends towards a need of fulfilling demand elsewhere when our own resources fun out. Our mistreatment of our land has not taught us to treat land better, but rather encouraged us to go and find land elsewhere to ruin also. The water we need to feed the mass quantities of livestock that we breed to consume in our franchises or to take the multiple showers and baths we take in a day, is water that others than don’t get to drink. Grains that we produce go to feed these animals as well, not because we’re trying to take care of the animal, but because we need them to be well-fed for when we turn them into the fast-food sandwiches that we enjoy eating. That’s water and grain that we are taking out of other people’s mouths. … When you consume too much, it has to come from somewhere. When you waste too much, it has to be put somewhere. Both extremes have consequences. The world produces sufficient amounts of everything to satisfy our basic needs. Our greed is what becomes hard to satiate.
I’m not an expert on the environment. I am expert on my own habits though. Ramadan can teach me how little I really need and how oblivious or how awake I am to the world around me. All those things we learn and hear and become desensitized to are actually real. The way we treat the world is indicative of how we treat ourselves and each other. I am more focused on satisfying my needs rather than what makes sense for many others and myself.