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Examining The Spirituality Of Livable Communities

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The objective of this paper is to focus on the current ecological issue of creating livable communities, and discuss one or more groups engaged with that issue, whose orientation can be linked with the notion of sacred nature. I shall not be focusing on certain groups linked with any traditional religion. Instead, my attention will be geared towards groups with the religious naturalism orientation. Moreover, the paper will describe the main issue, and its overall background. It will further explain how a sense of the sacredness of nature, has informed certain actions, and summarize the actions, that have been taken in response to the main issue.

Before delving into the actual current ecological topic, it is first imperative to discuss the various components, of religious naturalism and spirituality. I will begin by emphasizing as to why it is imperative to unpack the meaning of religious naturalism. “A certain version of religious naturalism tends to deal with issues regarding social justice; it may speak to them, or it may end up speaking better than the concept of traditional theism” (Stone 21). “It may also be possible, that religious naturalism tends to be more conservative, along with having old roots” (Stone 20). In addition, religious naturalism emphasizes on the notion, that humans are an integral key part of the overall nature (Stone 15). “For a religious naturalist, some experiences are not limited towards the non human world, such as a park or the nature preserve” (Stone 15). Overall, the inspiration of this tradition is not limited towards sunsets, or wilderness areas (Stone 13).

On the other hand, the notion of spirituality has various separate components. Moreover, this sort of information, will prove to be more valuable towards those individuals, that have little background on the academic study of religion (Taylor 1). “Terminology shapes the methods and focuses the attention in quite illuminating ways” (Taylor 1). In addition, it also carries assumptions, that may occlude phenomena, which might as well be relevant to the certain given inquiry (Taylor 1). As a result, it is imperative for people to reflect critically, on the spirituality term and notion, that is being employed (Taylor 1). “What indeed matters is whether people are moved and inspired when they encounter spirituality” (Taylor 220). In addition, what matters is whether people find meaning, and value in the certain practices (Taylor 220). Therefore, I believe that the notion of spiritualty is the overall key component, for people to reflect on. Adding on, there are various professionals in the world, who tend to emphasize on the phenomenon. Overall, spirituality will prove to be useful for certain philosophers. Perhaps also to certain psychologists; in these professions, spirituality can be known as one of the key topics to be explored.

I shall now describe the current ecological issue and examine its particular background. Creating livable communities is the main issue. Let us identify the key problem further. “For decades, the unchecked urban sprawl, has paved over Canada’s sensitive natural areas, and the best remaining farmland” (“Creating Livable”). “Inefficient land use, has polluted water supplies, compromised ecosystems, and has cost taxpayers billions in infrastructure costs, that have been deemed as unnecessary” (“Creating Livable”). In terms of the solution, we require the stable leadership, that understands the value, of growing smarter (“Creating Livable”). Moreover, directing the growth to existing urban areas, improves the nature, water, and the protection of farms (“Creating Livable”). In addition, it also saves taxpayers, from paying for the expensive sprawl, reduces congestion, and lowers the carbon pollution (“Creating Livable”). As a result, this allows us to create communities, with better access to certain services, like public transit, shopping, and recreation (“Creating Livable”). “In the end, all of us tend to win, by growing smarter” (“Creating Livable”).

[bookmark: _Hlk42112461][bookmark: _Hlk42112434]Moving forward, I will summarize the actions that have been taken in response to the main issue, and further explain how a sense of the sacredness for nature, has informed these actions. It is imperative to note that Greenbelt has been expanded (“Creating Livable”). “After years of campaigning, the province adds more acres of land to the Greenbelt” (“Creating Livable”). Meanwhile, it is protecting the coastal wetlands, urban river valleys, and certain new land parcels (“Creating Livable”).

“The undemocratic Ontario Municipal Board has ended up being replaced” (“Creating Livable”). In fact, it has been replaced with the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (“Creating Livable”). “The new rules, promise to empower the municipal decision making in land use planning, and level the playing field for citizen participation” (“Creating Livable”).

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Motorway 413 has been cancelled (“Creating Livable”). The province of Ontario, has cancelled the six billion dollar GTA west motorway, by saving thousands of acres on prime farmland, and the largest remaining forecasted land in Vaughan (“Creating Livable”). In essence, building unnecessary motorways, encourages people to drive, while increasing the carbon pollution and gridlock (“Creating Livable”).

Now, it is time to emphasize on the various news coverages, regarding the overall topic. “Ontario has suspended the requirement for public consultation on the environmental policies” (Scarfone, “Public Consultation”). “The covid-19 pandemic has prompted various North American governments to change their approach for protecting the environment” (Scarfone, “Public Consultation”). “United States, Alberta, and Ontario have passed regulations or issued orders, that get rid of environmental compliance, during the state of emergency that we currently identify ourselves in” (Scarfone, “Public Consultation”). “Some of the various changes could potentially lead to less transparency” (Scarfone, “Public Consultation”). In addition, the public could be left out during the process (Scarfone, “Public Consultation”).

“Canadian leaders have launched the new prescription for sustainable and livable cities” (Gray). “Alberta and Ontario have challenges maintaining the political will to address the economic costs of industries that are unsustainable” (Gray). “We have an imperative chance to shape the better future” (Gray). Therefore, we should not let the crisis regarding the pandemic end with a mere return to the unsustainable past (Gray). In my opinion, this news coverage helps to warn people, about the possibility of what the near future may seem to be. I believe that people should certainly be aware of the possible consequences that might follow as a result.

“Amid the covid-19 crisis, the aggregate lobbyists are pushing for environmental cuts and deregulation” (Scarfone, “Aggregate Lobbyists”). “While the nation collectively struggles through the pandemic, some industries are indeed using the crisis, as a cover to push their agendas forward” (Scarfone, “Aggregate Lobbyists”). In addition, they also demand that certain environmental protections get out of the way (Scarfone, “Aggregate Lobbyists”). “The lobby group which represents the Ontario aggregate industry is calling for the government to eliminate certain rules that protect natural areas from new quarries and gravel pits” (Scarfone, “Aggregate Lobbyists”). “For lots of people, the nature is a solace in times of uncertainty and crisis” (Scarfone, “Aggregate Lobbyists”). “The pandemic has reminded us that caring for nature is of the crucial importance” (Scarfone, “Aggregate Lobbyists”). “Biodiversity loss and habitat destruction certainly make us more vulnerable to these sort of pandemics” (Scarfone, “Aggregate Lobbyists”).

I would like to emphasize as to why I chose the ecological issue of livable communities in the first place. Being raised in Pakistan, our family decided to immigrate to Canada, for a better and improved life. We believe that Canada is the land for opportunity. Our parents decided to raise their children in the developed first world nation. I believe that having the decent and proper community to reside in can certainly prove to be the pivotal factor. That is why we decided to purchase a new home in 2018. In September of 2018, we decided to move in Milton, and have been residing there since then. Considering that the real estate market will witness a downward trend in the near future, I firmly believe that we purchased the new home, at the correct time. There are certain people in the world, who value the place, where they are residing. People do not seem to take these things for granted. For certain people, selling, maintaining, and purchasing homes, has turned into a unique form of business. Therefore, it is essential for people to be aware about their surroundings, and the nearby community, if they wish to gain the deep knowledge about where they are actually residing.

Overall, I believe that I have answered the critical question of how ecological activism can be understood as spiritual and religious. I have emphasized on the spiritual component enough in the beginning. Moreover, to expand on the religious component, I would like to explain how people find it useful to think of the modern global economy as a religion. I shall expand on this in thorough form by illuminating the deep convictions. “In the modern world, our original motivation has evaporated” (Loy 19). However, our preoccupation with capital and profit has not disappeared (Loy 19). In fact, this has turned into our main target (Loy 19). “Weber’s sociology of religion distinguishes between ritualistic and legalistic religions” (Loy 19). In addition, Weber’s arguments further imply that although we think of the modern world as secularized, the values are not only derived from religious notions (Loy 19-20). Although transformed by a loss of reference to an otherworldly dimension, they are largely the same values (Loy 20).

Works Cited

  1. “Creating Livable Communities.” Environmental Defence, (2010). 30 May 2020.
  2. Gray, Tim. “A New Prescription for Livable, Sustainable Cities Launched by Canadian Leaders in Response to the Pandemic.” Environmental Defence, (2020). 30 May 2020.
  3. Loy, David. “The Religion of the Market.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1997): 15-27. 4 May 2020.
  4. Scarfone, Kelsey. “Amid Covid-19 Crisis, Aggregate Lobbyists Are Pushing for Deregulation and Environmental Cuts.” Environmental Defence, (2020). 30 May 2020.
  5. —. “Ontario Suspends Requirement for Public Consultation on Environmental Policies Due to Covid-19.” Environmental Defence, (2020). 30 May 2020.
  6. Stone, Jerome. “The Environmental Potential of Religious Naturalism.” Sacred Nature, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group London/New York (2017): 13-30. 24 May 2020.
  7. Taylor, Bron. “Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future.” University of California Press, (2010): 1-223. 26 May 2020.

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