Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thoughts on the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument...again

News was received today about the recommendations of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke about the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument, with the likelihood of impending downsizing.    So here is a written version of the message I tried to convey today at a press conference in Mesilla. 

In the lead-up to the solar eclipse of Monday that would be total in many places, rabbis were discussing which blessing to say over this celestial event. 
Some said that we should recite, "Blessed are You, Eternal One, our God, Ruler of the Universe, whose power and might fill the world/universe."   This is a blessing for fleeting and sudden events like thunder and lightning. 
Others said we should say this more general blessing, "Blessed are You, Eternal One, our God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes the works of creation."    Note that this blessing is in present tense, not past.   Creation is happening every day.   And in each case, we human beings are in a humble position when set next to the wonders of creation and our past. 
Sometimes human beings believe they have to power to dictate the state of the created world around us.   Even though the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument encompasses places to enjoy and to visit because of their historical or natural significance, there is an attempt by some leaders to appropriate those sites for other purposes that have nothing to do with their meaning and beauty.  
That exercise of human power may last for a moment, like the eclipse, but it may not persist in the long-term.  
The power of the world around us to inspire us and to remind us of our fleeting days on earth that we must use wisely is endless. 
May the Creator and Sustainer of us all guide us to continue to give voice to nature and to those who came before us,  so that we will have the strength to preserve this vision of a monument to the past, present and future.   

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