|What are the systems that you have been part of today? Did you wake up this morning to the sound of the radio? Did you turn on the taps to brush your teeth, greeted by water that’s travelled a long distance to reach you? Perhaps you had cereal for breakfast, created and delivered by many people and through many places to land on your table. |
Systems and structures are the methods by which we, as communities, choose to share resources. That might mean sharing food, water, roads, hospital care or radio waves, education or even politics. Each day we each interact with and depend on the systems we have built around ourselves, often without even acknowledging them. They become part of the fabric of our world, sometimes leaving natural and man-made systems indistinguishable from each other. We live our lives in a web of complicated systems.
So many of these systems are intricately linked with the way we relate to creation. Together, in local, national and global communities, they enable us to distribute the earth’s resources, connecting us to one another – and the planet – closely.
However, more than often, these systems are unevenly balanced, and it’s people and the planet who pay the price. They are woven with both conscious and unconscious bias, a product of broken choices and unfair decisions.
The climate crisis is a product of many of these broken and unfair systems. The way we have chosen to consume and share resources has been unevenly biased against the vulnerable, and against the planet. The way we have mined, processed and burnt fossil fuels; gathered globally but used to the benefit of countries in the global North, often at the detriment of those from whom the resources were first taken. The way we have used materials in abundance which have a longer lifespan in the rubbish dump than the household.
The way we consume and share resources is inherently interconnected with the ability of people and planet to flourish. Responding to the climate crisis means considering the systems and structures we have built and depend on each day, and working to see these rebalanced to enable the flourishing of all creation.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, thought the way we relate to one another was at the core of Christian faith. He once wrote that ‘the Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social; no holiness, but social holiness.’ As people of faith, we depend upon the relationships we have with one another. Journeying deeper in discipleship cannot be done alone – the way we relate to one another is integral to the way we relate to God.
Responding to the climate crisis therefore is not the task of an individual, but instead is an invitation to think carefully about the way we relate to one another. It is an invitation to journey towards change together.
Take time today to notice the systems you interact with today. What choices could you make to positively impact these? Ask God to help you notice where your actions might make a difference.