#237 | Janet Leavens | New Value: "Eco-humility"

Submission 237
Janet Leavens
University UU Fellowship, Inc. (Orlando, FL) 2920

What is your suggestion or idea?

I am proposing a new value-- ““Eco-humility”” - to replace ““Interdependence.””

Eco-humility: We acknowledge that we depend on the biosphere for our survival.

We covenant to recognize the irreparable harm we have already wreaked on the natural systems of our world, while working patiently, intelligently and creatively to start from where we are now and build human communities which interact with the natural world in a sustainable, balanced manner.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

““Eco-humility”” (or some more poetic, but synonymous value) would replace ““Interdependence.”” Why?

““Interdependence”” seems to have been closely modeled on our current 7th principle which brings a needed emphasis on interconnectedness, community, and mutual responsibility to the first six principles which may, in turn, be seen as overly focused on the individual. The current revisions, however, are already very focused on community, social groups, relatedness, mutual responsibility – from ““Love”” as a central value (““love”” is necessarily relational), to the repeated covenants and the many calls for social responsibility. Therefore, I see it as overkill to have Interdependence be a separate value – in this context.

On the other hand, Eco-humility would place a serious ecology-mindedness front and center and help us ““get real”” about the necessary trade-offs, conflicts and tensions surrounding this issue which the UUA’s current softer focus on ““climate justice”” does not. Working to lift millions in the third world out of poverty may be a very laudable goal, but it will not necessarily help stem climate change. In fact, it would most likely be counter-productive in that regard. Similarly, it may be valuable on many levels to listen to the voices of the marginalized. However, listening to these voices is mostly likely NOT the absolutely necessary step in fighting climate change that climate justice activists make it out to be. Promoting a religious/sanctimonious/sentimental attitude (““cherish Earth;”” ““repair harm””) may blind us to uncomfortable possibilities such as the necessity of increased reliance on that politically incorrect course of clean energy – nuclear.

Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?

The proposed article II revisions have been discussed extensively in my congregation. I read this amendment idea to a group of eight other members. No one objected and one person loved the second part (the positive part) of the covenant.

I appreciate your thoughts around the focus shift. How do you conceptualize nuclear energy as “clean” given the end and by-products?