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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