“He sends the springs into the valleys; they flow among the hills. They give drink to every
beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst….He waters the hills from His upper
chambers” (Psalm 104:10).
Recently the media reported what they felt was a strange alliance between religious leaders and environmentalists. They thought it odd that churches would team up with “tree huggers” to form a coalition dedicated to protecting the environment. I wonder that it should be considered unusual. The Bible speaks clearly
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the round world and they that dwell in it”
The earth was entrusted to the care of human beings, and they are responsible to the Creator for the way they protect and preserve it, or defile and destroy it. This is clear from the first pages of the Bible. I find it strange that Christianity could try to make a case for pollution, even though Americans, namely those who are members and supporters of the churches, do it. Because our nation has the power, we have also the duty to save the environment from over-extension of building, intrusion into national and state parks, as well as over-drilling mineral resources. Reverence is due not only to God, if we can put it this way, but all that God has created and entrusted to our care.
I thought of it when reading a favorite author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery. In Wind and Stars he tells of some Bedouins who had been given a rare opportunity to visit France. They were shown all the obvious sights: The Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysee, Sacre Coeur, but none of that impressed them much. Then their guide took them to the Alps Mountains. He led them to a tremendous waterfall. They squatted down and stared at it for a long while. When it was time to leave and he suggested to them they should move on, they would not budge.
“Leave us here a little longer.”
They stood in silence. Mute, solemn, they had stood gazing at the unfolding of a ceremonial mystery….
That’s all there is to see,” their guide had said. “Come.”
“We must wait.”
“Wait for what?”
Whatever they may have imagined beforehand, they never could possibly conceive of any people anywhere on earth so blessed as to have so magnificent and abundant a supply of the precious element, water.
We in northern Ohio take for granted that whenever we wish, we can turn on a tap and fill a glass or a bucket with fresh potable water. We wash our cars in it, we bathe in it, we sail our boats in it, and we swim in it. Ours. Free—or almost. How else would we possibly feel, most of us who have never known true thirst?
Whenever revolutions come, they are brought about by the poor and the powerless who literally hunger and thirst—not just for righteousness, but also for food and drink. So it was in France, when the royalty were toppled and literally lost their heads. Marie Antoinette may not have said the words attributed to her when she was told that the poor have no bread: “Well, then, let them eat cake!” but such ignorance is appalling.
In Russia of the nineteenth century St. Petersburg was a city of luxury and indulgence for the few fortunate ones who were able to take part in the exploitation of the masses. Despite our sympathy for the royal family and the disgust over the cruelty of the Bolsheviks, it too was inevitable.
We Americans have a little time left to take lessons from the past. We are the new world imperialists. We will either curb our appetites and care for the environment, all living things, especially humanity, or we will go the way of those who cared only for themselves and ignored the cries of the world. I pray that from the patriotism precipitated by nine eleven, America evolves into a new awareness of our role as caretakers for the universe.