Monday, October 3, 2011

Krista Tippett's radio programme On Being aired an interview with one of my personal saints, Dr. Wangari Maathai. 


Wangari Maathai

Dr. Maathai passed away due to complications of ovarian cancer earlier this week.  The interview brought forth Dr. Maathai's holistic approach to environmental restoration/conservation, human rights, democracy, and improving the lives of women.  i was reminded why i'm a supporter of public radio because i cannot imagine having access to something like this on any of the local garbage/commercial stations. i'll be sending in my beer-can money (that's what we call the money from selling the aluminum beer and soda cans to the recycling center) to do what i can to keep this "spacious conversation about the big questions at the center of human life, from the boldest new science of the human brain to the most ancient traditions of the human spirit."  When her receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 was announced, there was consternation in some quarters because many did not see "what planting trees has to do with peace."  Maathai was able to show environmental degradation leads to resource limitation (erosion, drought, lack of potable water, food insecurity) and this in turn is a source of conflict.  it has been suggested that the next major war will be fought over access to water (consider the tensions between Iraq and Turkey over access to water from the Tigris-Euphrates River Basin).  during the interview, Dr. Maathai was able to explain the role of her faith in her work, how it not only sustained her but also informed her work. she particularly referenced Chapter 4 of Hosea: 
Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing...

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...

a people without understanding comes to ruin.
ow, i've a friend who is an atheist and i normally dismiss it as a "personal problem" but he has a habit of making declarations like "God doesn't exist!," or "how can a scientist believe in God!?!"   ok, it's irritating. 

 1.  the question of God's existence or non-existence is NOT a scientific one.  for the life of me, i cannot fathom how to approach designing an experiment that could prove or disprove God's existence. 
 2.  for the majority of folks, God IS very real in their lives and it's worse than chauvinistic to dismiss them as "deluded and irrational."  perhaps, the problem is within the atheists themselves ( who are in the minority position) since they are the ones who seem to lack some kind of sense of the ineffable.   regardless, i really appreciated the brief lesson in Dr. Maathai's theology which combines the Christian principles of stewardship with the Japanese concept of 'mottainai' which doesn't tranlate well into English. i do wonder if the fact that folks doing important work like Dr. Maathai and Dr. Vandana Shiva are afforded so little attention here in the USA is due a chauvinism on our part.........they are dark-skinned wimmen-folk from "third-world" countries.......i'm sure some bourgeois white-folks would find it presumptious that they would instruct us Americans.   *sigh*   hopefully, it'll get better 'round these parts, some day.