What Is The Most Urgent Thing To Do To Save Our Planet In 2021?

Like Hercules fighting the Hydra, we chop off one head only to find two more at the same place. We need to look away. Shift the focus. 
A girl holding balloons that look like planets
Image from Pixabay

Is 2021 going to be a disaster? Diseases, political turmoils, economic uncertainty, lockdowns, rumors of war, shootings, CO2, climate change — what’s next?

Is disaster inevitable? Is there anything we can do to prevent it?

It’s easy for us as human beings to focus on the external — external problems and external solutions. If I have a headache, I think: “I have a problem. I need to take a pill to solve it.”

I see the headache as a problem, an enemy, as something separate from me. Then, having externalized the problem, I am looking for an external solution for it. I may take a Tylenol to alleviate the symptoms. 

It will help for a while not to feel the pain, but if I take Tylenol over and over again every time I have a headache, eventually it will stop working. I will need to switch to a more potent drug. 

Even with this new drug, the cycle will repeat. After a while, it will stop working too. By externalizing the problem and trying to solve it in isolation, I will end up exacerbating it. I will end up creating more problems than I had in the beginning.

This strange pattern seems to pop up in many areas. One obvious example is antibiotics.

Why don't antibiotics work the way they used to?

A pile of pills
Image from Pixabay

By trying to “solve the problem” of bad bacteria, we have invented antibiotics. Using them again and again over a long period of time, we have created a situation where they no longer work. 

On top of that, new strands of bacteria have appeared that are resistant to antibiotics. And our bodies, weakened by many years of taking antibiotics, don’t have the capacity to fight the new bacteria.

What you resist, persists. When I “wage war” against my headache, I split myself in two. I create a dichotomy between me and the headache that needs to be exterminated. I have created separation, and I am trying to solve “the problem” AS IF IT WASN’T PART OF ME.

What if “the problem” is part of me? Let's explore this strange correlation between the internal and external in the story of the prophet Johan.

What is the meaning of the story of Jonah?

Jonah and the whale
Image from Pixabay

What if “the problem” is part of me? What if by externalizing it and treating it as an enemy I strengthen the very roots of what I am trying to exterminate? 

The ancients saw a close correlation between the external and internal. In the book of the prophet Jonah, the Assyrian city of Nineveh was to be destroyed by an imminent disaster.

After Jonah warned the Ninevites about the impending doom, the king and all the people of the city experienced a profound metanoia, a turnaround. They saw the problem as part of themselves. They saw a correlation between their inner state and their “external circumstances.”

And the result of that “inner change” was the “outer change.” The impending doom didn’t happen. They were spared. Jonah must have been unaware of this important correlation between the internal and external — he thought the disaster must come upon Nineveh anyway.

So, what is the most urgent thing to do to save our planet, which, according to the apostle Paul, is groaning? We must realize that external disasters are the reflections of our own inner state.  

What does it mean that all creation is groaning? 

A ship sinking at sea
Image from Pixabay

The apostle Paul says that all creation is groaning and points out that there is a correlation between our inner state and the state of the world around us:

“For the creation is eagerly awaiting the revelation of God’s children…the creation itself would also be set free from corrupting bondage in order to share the glorious freedom of God’s children.”

This seems to imply a close connection between our inner state and the way the world is. Namely, that the falling apart of the creation is reversed by our inner transformation. As within, so without.
If what I see as the external problem is actually part of me, and not something I have to fight with, the only alternative is to change myself. When I refocus from solving external problems to changing the only thing I can change — me in the here and now — eventually the outside world gets aligned with my inner state.

This close correlation between the inner and outer worlds is further illustrated by an ancient prophecy found in the book of Genesis.

"Cursed is the ground because of you"

desert and a dry tree
Image from Pixabay

The book of Genesis says that the earth was cursed because of Adam. Just as the curse came through Adam's turning away from God, so it can be undone by our turning back right here right now. Just like Adam’s inner state caused the earth to grow thorns and thistles, so our conscious connection with God can set the creation free of its bondage.
The power of shifting one’s focus is a profound mystery. For example, is there any visible connection between looking up at the bronze snake that Moses lifted up in the desert and being saved from venomous snakes? Not that I can think of. 

“So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!” Numbers 21:9.

This story is a powerful illustration of what happens when we intentionally shift our attention away from our external problems.

What saved the Israelites from snakebites?

A bronze snake on a pole
Image from Pixabay

There’s no observable external link between not looking at the snakes down below and being healed. Yet, that’s what happened.

The Israelites shifted their focus from the snakes —the visible problem down below —to the sign of our connection with God and were saved!

The more we look at the visible snakes at our feet, the more we get bitten. Like Hercules fighting the Lernean Hydra, we chop off one head only to find two more at the same place. We need to look away. Shift the focus to up above. 

It’s scary. We still see the snakes hissing at our feet and think: “How in the world are we going to be saved?” What the heck is the connection between looking away and getting saved? There is no visible one. There is only an inner connection based on trust.
The Hydra wants our attention. In fact, it is created and fed by our attention. It knows that the more we look down, the more it can bite us. The more heads we chop, the more heads it grows. But the moment we look away it weakens. Like Ego, it gets deflated when ignored.

There is another well-known story, where shifting one's attention away from the visible problems led to a change in external circumstances.

What does Peter's walking on water symbolize?

Sea storm
Image from Pixabay

The story of Peter's walking on water is a powerful symbol. When Peter started looking at the waves, he started drowning. The moment we shift our focus to external problems, we start drowning in our problems. It’s so hard to believe that the raging elements will subside by themselves if I don’t give them any attention, but they will.

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.” Mt. 14:32. 

Whether it’s global pandemics, political turmoils, economic uncertainty, lockdowns, rumors of war, shootings, CO2, or global warming — if we focus on solving the external problem, we will make it worse. 

If we look away from the snakes and refocus on connecting with God in the here and now, all these problems will eventually die down. The imminent disaster will be averted. The inner metanoia lifts the curse. As within, so without.

What is the most urgent thing to do to save our planet? Shift our focus away from external problems to changing our inner state.

It is up to us what will happen in 2021. If we keep looking for a pill for our headache, we might get temporary relief, but we will let in a whole legion of other demons. If we let go, trust, and rest — it will go away by itself. 

“In turning around and resting is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15.

I am a translator and blogger who believes that all change comes from inside out, not from outside in.

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