There is a great deal of talk about climate control these days, based on the deep concern that the earth’s atmosphere is heating up, with dire consequences predicted for future generations.
I share those worries, but have some more immediate ones as well. I’m thinking of the cultural environment, not just the natural environment.
For example, what are we going to do about controlling the political and civil climate, particularly here in America, with temperatures soaring? And have we really grasped the danger of a nuclear Iran, which not only threatens Israel but the entire region if not the Western world?
At this rate it won’t take decades for us to feel the pain.
From the free-flowing anger of Tea Party proponents, who are a lot better at expressing anger over what troubles our society than proposing solutions, to the vitriolic level of discourse over President Obama’s motives and the status of Muslim Americans, our society seems headed backward in terms of democratic values, mutual respect and individual and religious freedoms.
We Jews have a lot to teach our fellow Americans about these values, grounded in our religious tradition as well as the Constitution. And we have a lot to lose if society’s grip on these baseline standards of conduct loosens.
It was Judaism that taught the world the concept that every man and woman is created in God’s image, and therefore precious and unique. It was the freedoms of American life that allowed so many Jews to settle and thrive here in the 20th century.
Yes, it’s important to focus attention, policy and funds on ensuring that the earth remains sustainable long after we are gone. But let’s not forget the immediate and pressing need to make certain we can maintain our ability to work together for the common good, including protecting the world from the threat of nuclear arms controlled by Islamic zealots.