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Every Choice Leaves a Trace

Dec 30, 2020

Unless ye must,
Bruise not the serpent in the dust,
How much less wound a man.
And if ye can,
No ant should ye alarm,
Much less a brother harm.

Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá 206

January 2021, Christine Muller

Why does the Wilmette Institute have tips for environmentally responsible actions in each newsletter? Do such actions really matter, and why are they relevant for Baha’is?

An environmentally responsible lifestyle is essential for the coherence between our beliefs and our actions. Polluting the environment can harm other people directly such as with air pollution that causes asthma, heart disease, and cancer. Also, we can easily see the connection of our plastics use with the horrendous plastic pollution in our oceans, and how these plastics kill sea-birds and harm ocean life. The negative impact of many human activities is often more hidden though because it is more indirect and long-term, for example its contribution to the warming of the Earth and its resulting catastrophic impacts on the climate. Many people are already seriously suffering from the impacts of climate change and the destruction of nature, and it will get much worse in the future. In many parts of the world, hundreds of millions of people will have to abandon their homes and cultures because of unbearable heat, droughts, and sea-level rise – all climate-related disasters. Therefore, understanding these connections and following the teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in the quote above is important for our spiritual integrity. Our individual actions do matter!

The Universal House of Justice emphasized this point in its 1 March 2017 letter: “Every choice a Baha’i makes … leaves a trace, and the moral duty to lead a coherent life demands that one’s economic decisions be in accordance with lofty ideals, that the purity of one’s aims be matched by the purity of one’s actions to fulfil those aims.”

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Christine Muller, Piano Teacher

Board Secretary, International Environment Forum

I was interested in environmental issues already at a young age and became a Bahá’í when I was 17, which was the beginning of a life-long study of the Bahá’í Faith. As the environmental crisis was worsening, I began to systematically study climate change at a time when not much information was easily available. I also searched the Bahá’í teachings for a spiritual solution to the climate crisis. At that time, climate change was not known to most people and there were no educational materials available. That’s why I wrote Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change – an Interfaith Study Course, which the International Environment Forum posted in 2009. I joined the Wilmette Institute as support faculty for its Sustainable Development course in 2011 and created its Climate Change course the following year. I served on the board of RI Interfaith Power&Light for nine years and currently serve on the board of the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum (iefworld.org). My academic background is in music and I enjoy part-time piano teaching and playing music. I would have done more in the area of music were it not for the urgency of climate action, but my musical training has helped me to better understand the complexity of the climate crisis. Christine’s articles on BahaiTeachings.orgSee Faculty Bio

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