Wynn Bruce celebrates Earth Day 2022 Set himself ablaze before the U.S. Supreme Court. Wynn is a wonderful friend, Buddhist meditation therapist, lover of the natural world, selfless, brave and fun loving man that I have known for eight years.
I do not know the exact reasons Wynn took these actions. As a climate scientist/climate-justice advocate, I know that Wynn was like many others. felt a dire urgencyThe global climate crisis. We feel constant distress over the insufficient and painfully slow actions taken by those in power so far to combat the growing climate disasters.
As I write this, people in India are already facing 115-120 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, and it isn’t peak summer there yet. In just three months, I was in three evacuation zones for three wildfires in Boulder. I am aware of the ongoing climate crisis.
In addition to the devastating climate-related events, there is an exponentially growing chasm of inequality between the dominant elite and the vast majority. This chasm is most severe for the poorest and least privileged, including women and children. They are the ones who suffer the most from polluted air, poisoned waters, and the climate catastrophes that are yet ahead.
Changemakers are often overwhelmed by the many layers of family, economy and gender-related issues. traumas. There are days when we feel powerless and unable to make a meaningful difference. Psychologists repeatedly stress the importance of taking strategic climate action to counter this sense of powerlessness. ImproveOur mental healthcare system for climate grief, depression, and increasing suicide rates.
In my Spiritual lifeAs a Buddhist meditation teacher and grief group leader, I have argued. For yearsActivists who work for justice and peace feel grief, fear, and anger. My focus is to help climate and social justice activists get through despair.
Regular meditation is a great way to calm activists and move them from reactive states of mind toward a joyful engagement with the moment. I teach communities how they can embrace the impossible, even under the worst-case scenarios. I teach how to “compost” what is buried deep and currently lying discarded as waste in our minds and fertilize our collective actions.
At the end of Ecodharma retreats I lead, I notice to my deep satisfaction that the energy of individuals’ grief and anger has gotten “composted” into clarity, courage and joy in the presence of a wise and loving community. Here are some examples testimonials yourself.
In the hours after the news of Wynn’s painful death broke out on social media, I was shocked and heartbroken. My first instinct was to stand up and support him, and to tell how brave and compassionate he was. After a week of reflection, I hold the issue of Wynn’s deepest aspirations in taking this action as a Zen koan: I don’t know.
No one can be sure about Wynn’s psychological and spiritual state in the months leading up to his action. Was he convinced and hopeful that his actions would inspire others to speak their truths, or did he feel despair? In spite of how deeply he was hurt, did he feel any despair? Was lovedAs a community member
The crucial part is that we don’t have to know Wynn’s intentions to feel whatever we need to feel. We don’t have to understand him completely to decide our own next steps.
While some of the impacts of the climate crisis will be inevitable, every action we take can help to protect the most vulnerable ecosystems as well as people. The goal of keeping the planet’s average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times has all but slipped away, but we must do our best to keep it as low as possible. Every degree counts, every effort. While the situation is dire, we don’t have the collective luxury of giving up. We must be courageous in every moment.
We must learn to work on our own trauma layers. It is important to learn to slow down, listen and help our friends in distress. We must develop equanimity and vulnerability if we’re going to develop a loving community around us. We must learn how to ask for help when we feel overwhelmed. We must learn how to calm down and find joy even in the midst adversity. We can become wise ancestors by speaking our truth collectively in creative ways and taking nonviolent direct action to change unjust laws.
As long as we try our best to avoid disasters, it is possible to be fully present, joyful, resilient, and even empathetic in each moment. This is what my many years of Zen practice has taught us. That is what our ancestors have done for millennia to live in harmony with their lands.
Kritee Kanko is a Boulder resident.
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