Some people, including those of faith, say we need to care for Creation and look after the Earth. But I am not sure that they are right!
In reality, the environment is well able to care for itself. The (God-given) laws of physics, chemistry, biology, etc. ensure that life evolves healthily. Where there is a wound, Nature heals it. When there is fracture, natural processes will prompt repair. Where there is a void, it is filled by the very nature of life. Mother Earth looks after herself and her own.
What we perhaps need to do more is not so much care for but care about what is happening to the whole planet. We need to care that we are producing excessive amounts of carbon, or particulate matter, or disposable plastics. We should care about the effects of gross consumerism on fragile economies, or poor air quality on children, or loss of species due to unsustainable farming practices.
However, when we start caring about what’s going on, we inevitably end up needing to examine ourselves and our lifestyles. We actually conclude by campaigning against ourselves – to reduce our insatiable greed, our uncontrolled desires, our own selfish demands.
As with tackling poverty, we not only have to start giving back charitably, we have also to stop our economic systems from taking unjustly from the poor and the environment in the first place. It is not enough to comfortably distribute handouts. We need to seek what is right and prevent life being broken or impoverished beforehand.
In scriptural language we are to seek kindness and mercy, but they are to be accompanied by righteousness and justice. This is at the heart of caring about……
I would not dismiss the importance of what some call ‘stewardship’ – looking after things well. Yet in biblical terms the word ‘steward’ is applied either to someone caring for a specific plot of land (vineyard, garden or field) or, as more often, an amount of money (in Greek an ‘oikonomou’). To simply apply the term stewardship to the entire inhabited earth is to disregard the capacity for the Earth to self-regulate and to overlook the stronger biblical emphasis on the holiness of the world.
“And God saw that it was good – and it was very good” – that off repeated sentence from Genesis 1 and 2, reads as an understatement. That is until we realise the words ‘good’ and ‘God’ derive from the same root in English. So as we may say “God is good”, we may equally say “the Earth is godly!”.
Surely this has to be a fundamental reason why Christians and others should take the environment seriously – because it is a place of holiness. That is why caring about has to be at the heart of our behaviour. The planet is sacred and we should not desecrate her. In as much as we do this unto the Creation, we also do it unto the Creator…..
Seasonal best wishes
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” – Stephen Hawking