Set Your Weapons Down


Healing is Difficult

Sia has an album called “Healing is Difficult.” On the cover, those words are scratched into her face. When it comes to healing wounds and forgiving mistakes, I have to agree with her. It’s all difficult.

When I’ve done something wrong, I tend to be stubborn and defensive. I think that’s human nature. I don’t like to admit guilt, especially when my defense is that I was just doing the best I could. I really never meant any harm. I was mimicking what I’ve seen. Working on auto pilot.

I think a lot of people feel guilty and defensive about environmental issues like pollution, climate change and deforestation. It’s hard to look it right in the face, because we know we hold a part in it. We feel guilty, but it’s easier to get defensive than to listen and change. At least it is for me. Until a few years ago, I didn’t know what palm oil was and that it was in almost all processed food and that it’s leading to major deforestation and the near extinction of the orangutans that live in Indonesia and beyond.

Defensive Me

Hey! I didn’t know! It’s not my fault! I didn’t chop down those trees! I’m just doing my best here! Trying to raise my kids and be a good wife. I just want to be able to put on a bikini without bursting into tears. I don’t have time to fix the whole damn world, OK? I just want to get through the day without eating an entire chocolate cake. Is that too much to ask?!

That’s defensive me talking right there, I’ll call her Becki. Becki is pretty feisty, and she’s got her guard up. Becki’s always up for a fight. Unfortunately, she’s also not a great listener. She’s a little bitchy. She thrives in the dark, not in the light. (Becki, incidentally can be fun to hang out with in a bar… or not, depends on the night.)

The Light

Then there’s the part of me that is always reaching for the light. The part that’s a total sucker for my kids when they ask me to lay down next to them to snuggle before bed. OK, just for a minute! They won’t be little forever, and I’ll miss their warm little bodies snuggled up next to mine when they’re all grown up. The smell of their hair. I let God’s light in through them. My defenses come down. I say yes instead of no. I ask what can I do rather than what can I get.

Everyone’s Just Doing Their Best

I think we are all just doing the best with what we have now. I truly believe that. I don’t want my minivan to pollute the environment. I don’t want my burgers to contribute to climate change. I think when we hear these things we put on our metaphorical armor. We raise our weapons, ready to fight for our right to eat burgers and drive minivans! At least I do.

I think it’s time to put the armor down though. To admit guilt. To trust that we did the best we could. To forgive ourselves and each other for harm done. Maybe then we can heal some of the damage we’ve done and move forward in a new direction.


I see a lot of hope in the environmental movement of today. The Montreal Protocol has been largely effective and the ozone layer is expected to heal over the next 50 years. Educating people on the health effects of smoking lowered the number of people who smoke cigarettes from 42% of adults in 1965 to 17% in 2014. So there’s hope that the same can be done for climate change.

Action is urgent. It requires us to be all in. I think that requires that we truly listen to each other. To scientists. To start real conversations with energy companies. To ask politicians to put their metaphorical weapons down. To forgive past mistakes. To decide to move forward together in a new direction.

“Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. It’s a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.”
― Archbishop Desmond Tutu