By Rabbi Israel Barouk and Mahomed Khan; Interfaith Alliance, American Muslims for Sustainability
Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 1:4 in the Jewish Torah says, “One generation goes and another generation comes; but the earth remains forever.” Similarly, 40:64 of the Qur’an reminds us, “It is Allah who made for you the earth a place of settlement and the sky a ceiling and formed you and perfected your forms and provided you with good things. That is Allah, your Lord; then blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds.” Although there are differences within the Jewish and Muslim faiths, there are clear connections of thought and purpose that we must continue to pursue: we must unite in protecting God’s creation, and we must pursue stewardship by embracing commonsense environmental goals.
As leaders within Jewish and Muslim communities, we recognize California has long been a nexus of environmental activism and social transformation. Its activism has always emerged from the local communities we live in — and as members of those communities, we are often acutely how impossible it can seem to make a difference, to make change.
How as one person in a world of billions can we make a difference? Where can we find the direction to help preserve our precious lands? As leaders in the Jewish and Islamic communities, we know faith can and must be an essential partner in making California a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable state for the long term.
With the looming threats posed by climate change, perhaps the greatest challenge in human history, we need a united effort to make real progress. One such program has been working to bring all Californians together to meet that challenge. Energy Upgrade California® rests on the foundational idea that together we can make a difference. As individuals of faith or as creatures that must be stewards of this earth, we need to find a way to help plan and encourage ways to save energy, and build on a vision of personal commitment and involvement. Aimed at educating and motivating Californians and small businesses to take actions to manage their energy use better, the state-sponsored initiative focuses on how as individuals each and everyone of us can do a small part to find solutions to the vexing problems that surround us.
And it does not have to be large dramatic steps towards finding a solution to the crisis that is upon us, each of us can do small measured things. For example, you can begin today to implement energy-saving behaviors in your home and business. These behaviors might include unplugging your laptop or cell phone when not in use, turning off lights when you leave a room, and lowering your water heater’s temperature.
Our faith teaches us to lead by example, to provide direction and knowledge to those that are looking for answers. We hope that this endeavor will facilitate long-term success as families, individuals, and businesses join together to use energy more efficiently, thus enabling communities to meet state and local energy and climate action goals.
Remember, we are God’s disciples. This is something all of us can do to be good stewards of the Earth. He will protect our souls, but He trusts us to care for what He has given us. As communities of faith, we can and must take action, it is important that we find ways to bring our two communities together for the betterment of our children.