My oldest friend recently sent me a link and addressed it to me as “my dear tree-hugging friend”. I had to laugh. We’ve been friends over 25 years now…and even back in high school she called me a tree-hugger. I was proud of it. I supported WWF (the World Wildlife Fund…not the wrestling thing), the Sierra Club, GreenPeace… everything I could afford to on a high school student’s part-time job salary. I was the hippie, born too late…I even broke styrofoam cups down into crumbles in an effort to help them biodegrade (sad, but true).
Nature has always been something…special to me. And special really doesn’t even begin to capture it.
I remember being 5 years old and sitting in the tall grass in our backyard with our dog, watching the trees sway in the breeze, and the flowers in my parent’s garden dance, and a little bird bravely venture as close as my dog could stand it. Even now I remember what that grass smelled like, how the fresh earth of the garden and the perfume of the flowers mingled as they were gently carried by the wind.
As a teenager, our high school began the school year by carting us off to camp. Being a teenager in a desert, this was my chance to spend time in tall pine trees. Oh that sound…the wind moving through the trees! When I first heard it I was sure there was a large lake nearby…but no, just the glorious wind conducting a symphony through the pinon pines. During our free time I would wander off through the trees and find a clearing where I could sit overlooking a field, surrounded by trees. I would pray and agonize over the usual teenage angst, and then a breeze would envelop me. It was like being hugged by God.
I have found that the older I get, the less time I can stand being away from the glories of creation. It soothes and restores me like nothing else can. If I go too long I get depressed and anxious and disconnected and I have to find a place to escape. I drive until I can find no trace of humanity, and I stop. I sit and breathe deeply. I smell and feel and see and touch everything that reminds me that the world is so much more than my 397 square foot apartment. In that moment I am put in my place, join with creation, and reach out to the Creator.
John Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
That’s why I tremble at those who don’t care about the environment. Politically speaking, I’m considered an oddity. I’m a conservative, who volunteers, co-ran a non-profit, and is passionate about conservation. I really don’t see them as mutually exclusive. You see, what concerns me today is the general attitude that it’s someone else’s responsibility. Everything is someone else’s responsibility. Let the government, or the teachers, or the state, or parents, or whoever take care of it. The royal “we” has become the common “them”. Let “them” do it. I hate that.
I’ve been watching Ken Burns:The National Parks. While I’ve really loved seeing creation in all its glory, what makes me so sad is the fight that it has taken to preserve it, even in the forms of the National Parks that we all now take for granted and complain about the cost of admittance. It often took a single man DECADES of fighting the powers that be on a national, state, and federal level to set aside these outdoor cathedrals for everyone to enjoy. They saw people coming into these places previously unknown to anyone but Native Americans and watched them burn through the flora and fauna like a bunch of Bridezillas at a $5 wedding dress sale. They were not only aware of what they would lose, but they were thinking about what future generations would lose, all for the sake of profit. And this, dear readers, was back in the 1800s.
Now it’s 2010, and most people are still as narrowly focused as ever. A few are trying to think of the future…renewable resources, recycling, etc.; but try to make people pay $15 for “green” lightbulbs, or $20 for a reusable water bottle and suddenly it’s back to what’s easiest for me.
Previous generations saved not for themselves, but for their children. To leave something for their kids and grandkids…to leave a legacy. Today, we don’t even save enough to cover ourselves in the event of an emergency. Financially, and environmentally, we are using up our resources, and letting “them” worry about the future.
We can’t do that. It can’t be a “them” thing. If we don’t each take responsibility for our own behavior, our world is lost. And yes, some of us believe this planet was created for a limited time, and wasn’t meant to last forever; but does that excuse our trashing it? God doesn’t need our help if He wants this world to come to an end. So why don’t we take up the call to care for it? Scripture says we were given dominion over the earth. Webster’s says dominion means supreme authority, absolute ownership; yet I know people who take better care of their cars than they do the environment.
Stan Lee said in an interview that he enjoyed reading the Bible as Great Literature and a source of story ideas. “With great power comes great responsibility” was adapted from Luke 12:48, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
We have no problem asking for more power. When are we going to step up and accept personal responsibility?