An appeal to the human family
Author: Dr. Franz Alt
No one can say what the future will look like, considering of the many crises that humanity is currently experiencing. At the same time, times of crisis are times when different, innovative decisions are made and implemented that can change the course of events. The well-known presenter and friend of the Dalai Lama Dr. Franz Alt makes an urgent plea for compassion and an eco-social turnaround, in which everyone is obliged to take responsibility for themselves and their actions.
All governments of this world focus on material growth, which, however, can never exist in a finite world. We can mature spiritually, mentally, culturally or even religiously, but never grow materially infinitely. Our material resources are limited, but the ideas of our minds are not. Ideas can multiply as if they had sex. This is how progress and prosperity come about. The only material being that grows infinitely is cancer. With the philosophy of eternal growth, we are officially propagating a cancer economy. And this worldwide. But this can be deadly.
But how can we grow spiritually in the times of climate heating and environmental destruction in such a way that we – perhaps – still survive these challenges? How can we mature instead of grow? That is probably the question of all questions today.
THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS
“After us, the flood” seems to be the motto of life for many.
We may be the first generation that can say no longer to our children with a clear conscience, “We love you.” Many children would have to answer their parents, “We don’t believe that. That’s hypocritical. You’re just pretending. If you really loved us, you wouldn’t be burning our future.”
Many children and young people are beginning to see us through and to resist the burning mania, our pyromania.
The rapid solar energy transition has become a matter of survival for humanity. Fortunately, 28,000 climate researchers “Scientists for Future” are already backing the “Fridays for Future” movement, but also “Parents for Future”, even “Grandparents for Future”, “Farmers for Future”, “Doctors for Future”, “Entrepreneurs for Future”, but also the first “Journalists for Future” and “Churches for Future”, even “Climbers for Future”. This is entirely in the spirit of the Dalai Lama. He wrote a letter to Greta Thunberg, letting her know that her “Fridays for Future” movement had two very strong arguments on its side: its youth and the truth. The world needs the “Citizens for Future” movement now. The children alone cannot save us. They need our solidarity and support. We must not leave them in the heat.
The all-important question now is: How do we get real change? Not with fear, but with positive emotions like compassion and mindfulness.
Technology alone will not save us. We need an eco-spirituality to do it. The Dalai Lama once told me, “Buddha was a Green and I am a Green.
Today, if I lived in Europe, I would vote Green. Their environmental philosophy is very close to Buddhism’s closeness to nature.” The God Jesus is spiritual energy. Today, when I speak to theologians on this subject and say “God is energy – the sun behind the sun,” no one objects.
TRANSFORMATION IS POSSIBLE
Transformation is possible – there are always alternatives. What we do, we can also leave undone.
“I can’t change anything” is the most fatal and fatalistic excuse people have ever come up with. At the same time, it is the most widely used excuse in the world.
Every human being is by nature capable of transformation.
That is the purpose of our being here. All problems caused by human beings can be solved by human beings.
- Peace is possible,
- Love is possible,
- Justice is possible,
- compassion is possible,
- climate protection is possible,
- sustainable economy is possible,
- a better world is possible.
Of course, fine words must be followed by corresponding deeds. Only deeds are the proof of the truth of our words. Then utopias become concrete and realizable visions.
Greed for money arises from ignorance, say Buddha and Jesus. This greed is therefore irrational. No amount of money, no stock price, no social product, no wealth is ever high enough to satisfy our greed and end this irrational striving. The people of the rich industrialized countries, whose incomes roughly doubled every 20 years after 1945, are no happier than they were before 1945.
COMPASSION AS A REMEDY
The only antidote to money and greed is compassion, Buddhism teaches us, but also the original Christianity teaches the same, as long as it was a Jesus-ism. Dogmatism is foreign to both religions in their origins; they are committed to pragmatism and science. If science proves that the scriptures are wrong, one must change the scriptures, even the so-called holy scriptures, them above all! In his mother tongue, Aramaic, Jesus speaks of “rebirth” eight times. Unfortunately, the theologians and bishops deleted these references in later centuries. In the book “Save the Environment – The Dalai Lama’s Climate Appeal to the World,” which I wrote with the Dalai Lama and was published this year, the Pope of the East says:
“Anyone who believes in rebirth, as we Buddhists do, is interested in preserving the planet for selfish reasons alone.
After all, he or she knows that it will come again and then wants a beautiful planet, not a broken one.”
One individual or one person can do nothing? If each and everyone sweeps at his or her own front door, the whole world will become clean. “Our future depends on what we do today.” (Mahatma Gandhi) Who is stopping us if not ourselves? A better world starts with the individual.
If we don’t learn that the health of the forest is our own health, we consequently risk disappearing. Perhaps what we humans need is tree consciousness. Novelist Richard Powers thinks we need to very quickly shed our blindness to our supposed “special status as human beings.” A “plant consciousness” could help us. These terms come quite close to the Buddhist holistic thinking of the Dalai Lama and his message of a “revolution of compassion” or also the ethics of Albert Schweitzer of the “reverence for all life”. Those who keep their eyes open can no longer deny the impending catastrophe. How much are we willing to do to stop the apocalypse? Those who are responsible for a problem can also take remedial action. As a human family, we share a common destiny. So let’s make sure things don’t get too hot. Let compassion revolt.
About the author
Dr. Franz Alt & the Dalai Lama
Dr. Franz Alt, born 1938, journalist and book author, since 1968 at the SWR, where he hosted the political magazine Report Baden-Baden for 20 years. Since 1992, head of the series “Zeitsprung” on SWF and since 1997 of the magazine “Querdenker” on 3SAT. Franz Alt is the most awarded German television journalist: Golden Camera, Bambi, Adolf Grimme Award, Siebenpfeiffer Award, Ludwig Thoma Medal, German and European Solar Award, World Wind Award, Human Rights Awards, Golden Lion Heart, Environmental Award of the German Economy, Most Extraordinary Speaker of the Year and many more. More info on Franz Alt: www.sonnenseite.com
Books by Franz Alt and the Dalai Lama on the subject:
- Lust for the future – How our society will turn the corner, Gütersloher Verlagshaus 2018.
- The ALT-ernative – Plea for a sunny future, edition Chrismon 2019
- The ecological Jesus – Trust in creation, Goldmann 2003
- Our only earth – A declaration of love for the future, Patmos-Verlag 2019 (together with photographer Helfried Weyer)
- Save the Environment – The Dalai Lama’s Climate Appeal to the World (Dalai Lama and Franz Alt), Benevento-Verlag 2020
- Ethics is more important than religion – The Dalai Lama’s appeal to the world (Dalai Lama and Franz Alt), Benevento-Verlag 2015