Dear President Obama: Congratulations on your re-election! Below you will find a speech I wrote for your upcoming inaugural address on January 21. Please feel free to use any or all of it. And may you have the courage and wisdom to do what is right at this critical time in human history.
While offering our prayers and intentions to those affected by Superstorm Sandy, we can also give thanks that the destruction was not far worse. No loss of life is ever insignificant, and yet we recognize that the death toll could have been much higher. In relative terms, Sandy offered a gentle warning of things to come.
This past week, a study by the respected accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forecast an 11-degree increase in the Earth's atmospheric temperature by the year 2011. To put this in perspective, an ice age can be triggered by a temperature drop of less than seven degrees. The type of temperature rise predicted by PwC would be devastating to many species of animals and plants, not to mention the world's food supply. It would force massive migrations of billions of people, assuming that they could survive the severe climate conditions.
Changing the way we do things isn't as hard as you may think. All it takes is a letter or phone call. We can demand that our governments declare a global state of emergency, taking measures to stop all sales of fossil fuels and moving in short order (3-5 years) towards zero-emission technology. The technology is already available. For example, car manufacturers like India's Tata Motors are already producing vehicles that run on compressed air. Such cars can be recharged using electricity generated by wind, solar or other clean technologies. This is not a fantasy; the technology has been tested, developed, and implemented. It can be made available on a global basis with the proper will.
Considering its force, Sandy was a relatively merciful storm. What kind of devastation will the next major climate event bring? Whether we choose to admit it, the severity of these events is only going to increase. But we can do something now to make sure that we don't keep compounding the problem through neglect. Sandy was just a warning. Are we ready to take heed?
Here is a Global Chant favorite, from the Jewish tradition. The words, in Hebrew, are "Ana El na refa nala," which mean, "Please God, heal us," or "Please God, make us whole." Already, cold and flu season has gotten underway in many households (including my own). So, this seems like a timely chant to offer our loved ones, either as a preventive measure or to hasten their recovery. In either case, we ask the divine (in whatever form it may take) to "open our hearts, awaken our minds, and heal our bodies." With bed rest, plenty of fluids, and perhaps a little chicken soup thrown in for good measure, this chant can work wonders!
Happy Dia de Los Muertos ("Day of the Dead")! In Mexican tradition, the three-day period from Oct 31 to Nov 2 is one of the most sacred celebrations of the year, bringing us in close contact with our loved ones who have died. During this period, the veil that separates the living from the dead becomes so thin that we can palpably feel the presence of those who have crossed over to the other side.
Rather than being a time of mourning, this is seen as an opportunity for true celebration. We take time to remember those who are near and dear to us, sharing stories about our departed loved ones and preparing special foods in their honor.
In my hometown of Tucson, Arizona, a group of us meets every year (on the evening of Nov 2) at a small shrine called El Tiradito. Legend has it that a young man died on this site, fighting over the love of a woman. Today, El Tiradito has become a shrine to love, visited by those who have experienced the loss of a loved one through death or separation. Many come to light candles in honor of their dead. We chant, tell stories about our loved ones, and share foods and beverages that were favorites of theirs. Without exception, we always succeed in invoking the presence of these beautiful souls so that we can feel their presence in the circle with us.
I can't think of a better cause for celebration than this. How great it is be reunited again with my beloved grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, friends, and pets. Each of you was oh so dear to me in life and continues to be in death. One day, I will follow in your footsteps. But today, you come to me, bestowing upon me the honor of your company once again and lighting my heart and mind with your presence. And I say: Welcome home!
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