Take Care of Our Earth – Make the Best Choices
Rachel Crandell, is President of Monteverde Conservation League U.S. (MCLUS). She is a retired 2nd grade teacher and the author of the children's book, Hands of the Maya. She is currently working on other children's books and on recording the stories of the Emberá people (indigenous to Panama). In her work as an environmentalist and conservationist, Rachel has certainly made a difference. Here, she provides us several ways that we can do our part to protect the environment. She bases her decisions on the Golden Rule because it helps us make choices that bless others, even our land and fellow inhabitants of our world.
Let's ask ourselves: "How can I practice the Golden Rule in relation to our world? How can I love people I have never met?"
- We can love them by caring for them and their homeland by using our purchasing dollars to buy fair-trade products that don’t ruin their native land or deprive them.
- We can realize that every product we buy comes from some resource somewhere. We can ask ourselves how our use of a particular resource is affecting others.
- We can know that our love can reach around the globe.
We always have a choice, and we can make the right choice.
- We can’t be afraid to make the right choice.
- Dooms-dayers would say that globalization, multinational corporations, or political systems are so gigantic and powerful that we can’t change them. Some governments don’t even want to use solutions we already know are effective, or they don’t want to do more research to determine new ones.
- We can be fearful and give up, like the Children of Israel who wished they were slaves in Egypt or dead in the wilderness when they heard the bad report of the Promised Land: that “the cities are walled” and “land… eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature” (Num. 13:28, 32).
- Or, we can be like Joshua and Caleb who refused to give an “evil report” back to Moses and the rest of the Children of Israel after they surveyed the Promised Land and were ready to go into the land God had prepared for them (Num. 13-14).
- We can choose to make decisions that will bless the environment.
- We can listen for God’s guidance.
- We can support actions that promote responsibility and sustainability in our daily human experiences. For instance:
- Drive a hybrid gas/electric car, which creates half the pollution of ordinary cars.
- Ride mass transit whenever possible, as it saves even more energy.
- Recycle an aluminum can, which saves 90% of the energy it takes to make the same can from virgin materials.
- Protect endangered species, which seems to be a direct order from Genesis when we are told to have dominion (not domination) over every living thing.
- Reduce the amount of energy we use at home by turning off appliances and lights when not in use.
- Ask the lumberman where the wood you are getting ready to buy came from and choose not to buy it unless it is from a Forest Stewardship Certified source.
- Make an effort to buy items made from recycled materials like paper and plastic wood to support businesses trying to help the planet.
- Repair things rather than buy new ones.
- Buy from resale shops rather than new.
- Buy food grown locally so that the high costs of energy to transport it to your local supermarket aren’t so damaging.
- Be a good citizen.
- When I vote, do I take into consideration what the candidate’s stand is on sustaining the environment or funding research for alternative energy?
- Be part of the solution, like the children with whom I have worked:
- Give your allowance to the rainforests.
- Ask your parents to give the money that they would spend on Christmas or birthdays to the rainforests.
We can also pray for our environment, as my 2nd grade class did for endangered species, particularly the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf.
- Rather than see these species as endangered, we decided to see them as “endeared.”
- The word endangered is rather a “scary” word, suggesting “danger.”
- The word “endeared” means they/we are loved by God.
- We put up a big sign on the board above the pictures of “endangered” species that said, “ENDEARED SPECIES.”
- This made it easy to love our animals in many different ways and to do what we could for them, which meant praying for them and taking practical steps to protect them.
- My class got to watch the two species of wolves being bred in captivity reintroduced into the wild, where they are now flourishing.
Refuse to allow fear or discouragement to affect you. Rise above apathy and worry, which would suggest that nothing you do will make enough difference. I am often asked, "How do you keep going when there seems like so little hope of ever fixing these global problems before it is too late." (See the interview for more inspiration.) Edmund Burke once said, "He makes the greatest mistake who does nothing because he could only do a little." A lot of people doing a little can make a lot happen. And, one individual can change the lives of many. Even when we are in a minority, even if we are young, even if we don't have lots of money or political clout, we can do a lot with love and fearless trust in God.
One of my biggest heroes just got selected as the Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2004. Her name is Wangari Maathai. She is from Kenya. I met her in 1991 at the World Women's Congress. She began the Green Belt Movement in Kenya to empower poor rural women by planting trees to hold back the desert, to provide fruits, shade, and firewood for their families. If you have to walk 4 hours everyday to get firewood to cook for your family, trees become very important. She gave them courage to begin and encouragement and guidance to continue. Her love was so palpable that this good idea spread. Today, over 20 million trees have been planted in Kenya by women. Now, 11 other African nations have begun to do the same. Never believe that one person can't make a difference! In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari said that this recognition of an environmentalist as the Peace Prize winner indicated that the Nobel selection committee realizes how important a good environment is to maintaining peace. If there isn't enough water or enough food, wars begin.
We can all be soldiers for peace by loving and caring for God's creation, having dominion.
Years ago, a good friend gave me a list of words that help me stay on track when I am making choices. I have added to it. I try to keep my thoughts and actions on the "RE" list not the "DE" list.
- RE: restore, renew, reforest, recycle, repair, reduce, reclaim, revive, refine, rehabilitate, revere, respect, rebirth, reason, reconcile, rectify, responsible, replant, redeem, rescue, re-educate, relief, rejuvenate, repent, refresh, remedy, relish, reinforce, refuge, rebuild, refine, regenerate, reconcile, reform, reflection, reassure, real, ready, recommend, redeem, recover, rectify and REJOICE
- DE: destroy, deforest, desolate, despair, denude, despise, decay, detest, deform, detract, deceive, detour, debility, devalue, debase, deceive, delay, demean, depress, dementia, depreciate, deny, defame, denounce, defeat, deficient, depravity, degenerate, degrade, defraud, derail, desertification, defraud
Not all words that begin with "re" are necessarily "good" words, but a lot of them represent wonderful ideas. And many words that begin with "de" represent not so good events or qualities. It helps me to be specific in my thinking when I am praying, knowing what to affirm and what to deny. Many of the qualities of Caleb and Joshua, of the Swedish kids who started the Children's Eternal Rain Forest, and of Wangari Maathai are on the RE list! Some of the problems confronting them and all of us are on the DE list. My prayer is to acknowledge the REAL, the truth about God and His/Her creation, which includes all of us as partners for good.