By: Michael D. McDonald, Dr.P.H.
In reading Dr. Farooq Hassan’s Presidential Address on “Islam: Environmental Protection,” I am inspired to suggest an ambitious project to change the course of human history toward environmental sustainability. We have before us a unique opportunity to embrace our larger humanity and its movement toward a more sustainable future. It is very encouraging to have such an eminent scholar discussing the truths of the Qur’an as they apply to humanity living in harmony with our environment.
Within the traditions of Islam, Aikido, and the way of the western pilgrim are the seeds for developing a common understanding of a positive, peaceful, and sustainable future. Aikido teaches that maintaining one’s own balance in the world, whether in self-defense or in life, is the key to harmony. Western philosophy, going back to ancient Greece, teaches that balance and moderation are key to living in harmony with the world. Although oft honored in the breech, biblical teachings in both Judaism and Christianity speak of living in harmony with nature, and of humankind’s responsibilities as steward of the environment.
Aikido teaches that in order to maintain balance, one must first have a strong base by finding one’s own sustainable center before addressing threats and the complexities of the world at large. In Judaism, the Kabbalah teaches that one must have a solid foundation before venturing into the unknown. Similar concepts in Sufism, Christianity, shamanism, and other religious and cultural traditions prepare the individual to live in balance with nature.