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Trees and Elders

In Jewish folk lore a man encounters a grandfather planting fruit trees. The man is disdainful, since the elderly man clearly won’t live to enjoy the tree’s fruits. “Why go to all that trouble when the tree will not bear fruit until long after you are gone?” The grandfather replied, “All my life I’ve enjoyed fruit from the trees that my grandparents planted. I am planting these trees for my children and grandchildren.”

Trees are more than a symbol of wise planning. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, humans have been transferring carbon from the earth into the air in the form of carbon dioxide, increasing the concentration of this greenhouse gas to a level never before experienced by human beings. We and our earth are in crisis. Trees are wonderfully effective means for moving carbon from the atmosphere back into the earth.

Last September RAICA invited people of faith and people of no faith to plant a tree during the week of September 20-27, as a sign of solidarity and support for the young people around the world who are not waiting for the old to become wise. We hope those trees would be symbols of our wisdom and our commitment to change our ways and invest in the future of our children. Time is running out to make meaningful policy changes that will reverse the course of the climate crisis.

Even as more people accept the reality of climate change, many make few meaningful changes in their consumption of resources. Young people around the world are demanding that we elders become like the far-sighted grandfather and invest in their future today even if it means less convenience now.

We members of Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action (RAICA) commit to renewing our earth for our children and grandchildren. We believe that the earth, which has been entrusted to our care, has been badly abused and her resources, meant for all, primarily benefit the few. We join with the faith leaders in our denominations who have spoken out emphatically on the moral imperative to respond to the climate crisis. Now is the time for wisdom.

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