Friday, April 30, 2010

Oil and Water

Another oil spill, eh? This one potentially worse than the Exxon Valdez? Off the coast of, sigh, Louisiana?

Well, there's not much one can say about this, besides the fact that it is a tragedy. We can't really blame the oil companies because, well, we are the consumers of said oil. We are the reason that those tankers even exist.

Recently I've been struggling with this idea of whether or not there are real "accidents." I generally move away from the idea of a vengeful God who causes death and destruction, but there are very few instances where I see the only cause to be an "accident." This tragedy is the fault of humanity's obsession with oil, and this is most definitely sin.

Before I get too preachy and doom and gloomy, sometimes realizing you are partially to blame for a huge problem can be liberating. Once you realize you have participated in it, it helps you feel like you have some power to overcome or right the situation. Take poverty, for example. Once a person moves beyond the blaming mentality ("They're just lazy and good for nothing, why can't they just get a job?"), they hopefully can realize that the fact that they have a home, a car, fancy clothes, family vacations, etc. etc. is partially to blame for why poverty exists. And once you realize that, the wonderful trait of compassion hopefully sets in and your life begins to reflect your realization. Maybe instead of buying that designer handbag you decide to donate your time and money to a charitable organization. Or maybe instead of buying that delicious coffee that you aren't exactly where it comes from, you look into the producers of the beans to make sure they treat their farmers appropriately.

And maybe now you'll think twice about your personal use of oil and realize that you (and me, and everyone else in wealthy countries) has a nasty addiction to oil. Maybe instead of buying that item that is covered in plastic wrap, you'll opt for the one that doesn't utilize plastic (plastic is made from petrochemicals, i.e. comes from petroleum). Or if that doesn'twork for your life, check out http:// for some more ideas on how to decrease oil consumption.

Without ownership and responsibility, we rob ourselves of feeling like we have any control or influence on the world around us, when in reality, we have more than any of us are aware of. We are the only ones who can change an outcome for the better or allow it to continue on for the worse. This oil spill reminds us again that our actions impact every aspect of this earth, even to the depths of the sea. We must treat that responsibility with fear and awe, for that power is not one to be taken lightly.

Monday, April 26, 2010

There's no WE in Environmentalism?!?!?!?!

So, I've been a little absent from the blog-o-sphere lately, and that is due to many reasons, primarily I've felt like I've had little to say and that no one really cares to read me (tears). I started a new job, I'm about 2 weeks shy of graduation, and I feel like it's about time to get back up on my soapbox for a few paragraphs.

I'm in a class called the "Future of Creation" and I've really enjoyed it. I've loved seeing the intersection between environmental science and theology. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, who knows anymore?), my new job at a day center for at-risk homeless women began mid-semester. While I was reading the beautiful and eloquent sonnets of environmental theologians, I could not help but think of my drive through the polluted and environmentally raped (and I use that word intentionally, because that is what has been done to the land) Northwestern Indiana territory. As I hear environmental scientists inform me about my carbon footprint and how the world must change in order to step back from complete environmental destruction, I can't help but think of a woman in the shelter who I saw throw a bag of chips on the ground as she walked away. My initial reaction to this act was disgust at how a person could do this to their home, but now as I really think about, I wonder, how could you consider a God and government forsaken land to be your home? And if no one cares about your land and your health and your safety, who really cares about you? And if no one cares about you, how can you care about anything else?

Our environmental crisis is deep and dark and scary and most likely unavoidable. But our current social reality is just as deep and dark and scary, but quite possibly avoidable. How can we pick one crisis as superior to the other? My critique of the current environmental movement is that it forgets about the immediate needs of those who are suffering now. It forgets that many people already feel the impact of global climate change. It forgets that many people don't have time to think about their carbon footprint because they can't put shoes on those feet, or their diabetes renders their feet useless.

Global climate change is a big deal, I'm not denying that. It may be the "biggest deal" around, but let's not forget about those people who have been told that their needs aren't that big, that there are other needs that trump their needs. The poor are always with us, as Jesus himself said, but that is not an excuse to ignore those needs (as that quote has so often been misused), it's more of a condemnation on our current economic inequalities and the outcomes we currently see. Our environment is hurt, and so are our people. They are not mututally exclusive.
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