By Jem Jebbia
“From the first, in people and in things, there is no such thing as trash. These words point to the fundamental truth of Buddhism….”
– From Novice to Master: The Extent of My Own Stupidity, by Zen Roshi Soko Morinaga
The desert, to many, is a land of uselessness where only the most extreme forms of life can live in the oppressive vastness. But the desert is a place where every being lives among the others in order to survive – living in solitude would most certainly lead to the end. Just as the sun nourishes this community under the harshest of circumstances, we are called to nourish our communities living in the midst of the political and social landscape facing us right now.
As our earth transforms rapidly, love calls us to cultivate new communities. Love means finding creative responses and combining our resources to sustain human life. The divisions we now hold between nations and cultures need to be reimagined. As a world of refugees, love means defining belonging beyond walls and borders.
“There is no trash” means nothing in our world – no tree, animal, or person – is worthless. Nothing can be wasted. What we cast away could be the greatest asset to our neighbors. Love calls us to use the resources we are afforded frugally so that everyone – and everything – may flourish: people, plants, animals and the planet itself.
Questions for today:
How does love for the earth translate into love for humanity?
How can we treat the earth and its people as if everyone has importance?
Jem Jebbia currently serves as the Senior Assistant Director for the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service at Northeastern University. Previously, she worked as the Spiritual Life Council convener at the University of Chicago, where she received her Master of Divinity degree. Jem is also an alumnus of the University of Southern California, where she studied religion, business administration, East Asian languages and cultures, and international relations.