Zeshan Akhter reports from her panel discussion at the faith screening of the seminal climate change film ‘Age of Stupid’ at the Edinburgh Filmhouse. She was joined by Rabbi David Rose and Percy Patrick of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF).
It was a full house, which was magnificent for a film about climate change. The age demographic of the audience was interesting however, most decidedly being made up of society’s elders with literally a handful of those who Islam’s tradition would describe as still in the age of youth i.e. under 40! It was wonderful though to see that it was a young person leading the debate in the form of Simon Bateson, Scotland Education Officer with the World Development Movement.
70% of the audience stayed for the discussion and it was so very heartening to find that so many were so willing to listen and take part in a discussion around faith.
Simon started off by asking for general reactions to the film given its very bleak ending. I commented that it brought to my mind a verse in the Quran which speaks of corruption appearing on land and sea because of what the hands of man have done and Allah allowing us a taste of the consequences of our actions in order that we turn back. It’s a verse that offers hope in its last few words I said that there is yet time to change.
One of the other panelists spoke about finding sustainable solutions and working together.
Then there was a question about whether the faiths incorporated environmental teaching and if they could help change society.
Percy Patrick, who was from SCIAF, spoke about the capacity of faiths to make a difference based on his experiences in Asia of how tenacious missionaries have been in the past. They worked on education and healthcare issues through educational and health institutes so that people got both these services in far flung areas so why not now when the message is that society needs to change in order to survive?
I said that Islam has deep teachings from Quran and Sunnah (the sayings and actions of the Prophet Mohammed – peace be upon him) on environmental protection such as humanity being appointed as steward of the Earth. I also said that there is a need for Muslims to rediscover this heritage and apply it in their lives and communities.
It was a shame that there was not more time to speak with the other panelists privately: I found it fascinating to discuss this issue with them.