Today is National Public Lands Day

Today is National Public Lands Day and it provides a good occasion to learn more about our National Park system and public lands in general. And to learn what volunteer opportunities there are to preserve and improve America’s public lands.

If you’d like to do any of that, this link would be a pretty good place to start.

The current administration seems to be pulling in the opposite direction. This is not a good thing. Not at all.

If you’d like to take a look at that issue, just follow this link.

We here at the FSF advocate for wise and compassionate stewardship of our Public Lands and feel some urgency about doing what we can to spread the word about this important occasion.

Happy National Public Lands Day to all of you today. May we do all we can to keep our Country’s parks and public lands some of the best on the planet and pass this wonderful legacy on to the generations to come.

Brother Ben

Neither Ben nor the FSF own this photo. We believe it to be covered under
the Fair Use Doctrine.

More Troubling Signs for the Earth

Climate Scientists have been sounding the alarm for years about how the Earth is warming and how big changes are on the way for all of us.

The signs that our planet is changing–and changing very fast–are so numerous that it’s hard to know what to focus on.

But we should not allow that to keep us from getting and staying engaged and advocating for policies and actions to mitigate the damage we are inflicting upon our beleaguered planet.

In an article that appeared in June, writer Jordan Davidson lays out for concerned readers some of the alarming signs that the melting of ice around Greenland is a very big deal and is–most troubling of all–accelerating at a rapid pace.

Davidson followed up with another piece yesterday which focuses on one of the more urgent aspects of this whole matter of melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

Scientists, researchers and policy wonks have been warning all who will listen that we need to be prepared to move away from the coastal regions of our planet as the phenomenon of rising sea levels proceeds.

And to this observer, it appears that not too many people are listening to those warnings.

Mr. Davidson’s article makes a fine entry point for anyone who’d like to take a closer look at these issues. It focuses closely on the melting of ice around Greenland, the Helheim Glacier in particular. The piece is very timely and not overly-wonky and can be read here.

Highlighting the urgent need to care for the Earth in a serious and compassionate way lies at the very heart of what The Fellowship of St Francis is all about.

So many are doing this work of watching for the signs, for the evidence, that our planet is struggling, is being seriously degraded.

Keep listening. Stay engaged. Stay engaged and take action!

The plight of the Earth demands nothing less.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Earth’s degradation and our grief

Issues around the environment and humanity’s stewardship towards the Earth are big around here at the FSF. It’s one of the two great urgencies of the times in which we live.

When writing about any issue touching the environment, I usually give a great deal of thought to whether the tone of my posts is too dark. I often agonize over such things, truth be told.

But the news is so overwhelmingly bad as the bill comes due, so to speak, for humanity’s stunning and persistent failures to take care of our planet that merely passing along the plain truth about all this can sound like some blogger woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

I came across writer Dahr Jamail’s article in Truthout yesterday and could see right away that its message was timely, spot-on and needed the widest possible dissemination.

It details a lot of the most recent events that have those of us who keep an eye on environmental issues from getting much sleep. It’s not an easy read.

But you should read it. All of it.

The part of the article that deals with the importance of feeling the shock and grief that any of us feels when coming to grips with the reality of our planet’s degradation is vital. Don’t shrink back from that part of the piece. Let it all the way in.

There are so many engaged in this work. The work of sounding the alarm as we rush ever-closer to the abyss.

Don’t stop reading. Don’t turn a blind eye.

It’s time for all of us to look unflinchingly at the truth and take the actions this grave situation demands.

Brother Ben

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Species are disappearing while humans…

It’s alarming to think about, but it’s nevertheless true that hundreds of thousands of species are disappearing while humans carry on with their ever-expanding enterprise to exploit absolutely everything on God’s green Earth.

In early March of this year–just over two months ago at the time of this writing–the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, issued a Global assessment and highlighted for an ignorant and often-uncaring world just how grave the situation is.

Nature is collapsing at an astonishing rate and many humans are blissfully unaware that this is happening.

The assessment was quite wide-ranging and examined closely many dark trends which we have not yet addressed as aggressively as we must to keep our situation for going from merely horrible to unthinkable.

Among the issues which the assessment addressed are:

  • Land degradation
  • The health of fish stocks
  • Plastic pollution
  • The rapid collapse whole ecosystems
  • The full extent of the threat to non-human species
  • How much of the Earth’s land surface and water resources are devoted to livestock and farming

To read the press release issued by the IPBES at the time the results and conclusions of the assessment were publicized, click here.

It’s past time to stop driving so many plant and animal species into extinction and putting at risk our own survival.

Way past time.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Let All Creatures

If you’ve taken a look around here on our site, you’ve no doubt noticed that one of the things we’re all about here at The FSF is advocating for animals. All animals. Any animals. 

We are connected to all life on this planet. It’s simply not tenable to imagine that our species is at the top of some imagined hierarchy and all other animals are here for our pleasure, our amusement or–worst of all–so we can eat or otherwise exploit them.

To have St. Francis as an icon, a model and a patron for our Fellowship is a good thing. His love for animals and for all God’s creation is very well known.

But adoring the Creation certainly did not begin with this holy and humble man.

Roughly 2,000 years before Francis came along, the Psalmist painted a vivid and engaging picture of how all manner of creatures “speak” their gratitude heavenward and join a chorus of voices which include people of faith:

Praise the Lord from the Earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps

Fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars

Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!

from Psalm 148

So when we’re feeling a bond with some other-than-human friends who are a part of the created order, it’s nothing new. We are merely engaging in a very human and very constructive behavior–expressing a fervent hope that all of God’s creatures praise him!

And as we do this, may we also root out the pernicious idea that our thoughts, our actions and our voices belong in this chorus but that others’ voices do not.

Brother Ben

At the Bottom of the Ocean! Really?

The deepest point on our planet is appropriately named Challenger Deep. You can find it on the ocean floor in the Mariana Trench, a mere 35,814 ft below the surface.

Intrepid explorer Victor Vescovo reached that point in a submersible last week and the results of that dive were released this last Monday, May 13th.

Although the expedition was a great success in so many ways, one of the things we learned from Mr Vescovo’s ground-breaking mission is that there is–wait for it–there is a plastic bag on the ocean floor, at the absolute deepest point on the planet!

Let that sink in. In Humanity’s mad rush to despoil the Earth, we’ve placed trash on the ocean floor. What an achievement!

If you’d like to read more about Victor’s very deep dive, follow this link.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Can you eat compassionately?

Yes, you most certainly can! The food choices we make are very important, and in ways you may not have thought about.

The ways we choose to eat have big effects on our economy, the environment, our healthcare system and certainly on animals.

The effects that I’ve focused on the most lately are how my eating choices affect my own health.

I’ve told many friends over the years about how I went vegetarian for three years in the early ’90s. About how the health effects were startling. About how I lost 90 lbs. About how it made me more serene, more at peace.

Well, back in ’95, I went back to eating meat, junk food and lots and lots of pasta. Plenty of sugar, as well.

And, as you might imagine, the results were not good.

So the direct effects to our health and well-being are a big deal. I don’t want to make this post all about me but let me just say that the issue of our food choices is a big deal for me again now because back on Earth Day, I eliminated meat and sugar from my diet.

The results–just as back in 1992–have been startlingly good. For me, the strategy is just to go back to what worked. It worked very well for me a quarter-century ago, and it’s working again.

How our food choices effect all those other things I mentioned earlier in this post are extremely important, of course.

Here is a link to a brief and excellent article that covers ten of the most important reasons why eliminating meat from your diet is a good way to go.

Because acting compassionately is at the very heart of our mission here at the FSF, the ways in which our food choices affect animals is a very big deal. Here’s an article that focuses mostly on that aspect of this issue.

Yes, we most certainly can eat compassionately!

And for many of us, choosing to love and protect animals rather than eating them could be a very good place to start.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.