Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ecology

What would happen if man considered all life as precious as human life? The answer is reflected in the efforts to save stranded whales by refloating them but is that really considering all life as precious? A New Zealand friend says that the whales are telling us to stop eating their food (Kai). Her argument is simple. The whales strand themselves because they have a food shortage. That shortage is caused by us over fishing their feeding grounds. If we really considered the lives of the whales precious, we would think more about what we do to the environment.

The rhythm of life involves life and death that includes for all humans. Why do we try to extend life at all cost rather than seek balance? In the "Peace & Power" notes (Anvil Trust 2010), James Lovelock is said to have made the assessment that "20% of humanity will make it beyond 2100" (p 36). Is this the reality of seeking balance as much as reality of having exploited creation? Can the earth and the universe (all of creation) sustain the increase in human population?

My economic thinking questions our unrelenting drive for progress. Ecological thinking also needs to question this same unrelenting drive.

The notes talk of ecology as "the study of plant and animal systems in relationship to their environment; with particular emphasis on the interrelationship and interdependence between different life forms" (p 35). The notes argue that "we are part of a delicate 'ball of life' in which everything is connected" (p 35). Here is my friend's interdependence. We take the whales food and they seek to die for lack of food. Humanity doesn't have the insight to see that placing its own existence ahead of the existence of other species is killing the planet.

The notes contend that to study ecology means encountering spirituality (p 35). They are linked and the understanding of shalom as "the wholeness, intergratedness and harmony of all things rooted in the creative and sustaining power of God" (p 35) echoes ecological thinking.

A Native American chief Seatle responding "to the US government's desire to buy their traditional lands" makes a number of telling remarks (pp 37-39). He says "If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?" (p 37). "This we know: the earth does not belong to people; people belong to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood that unites one family. All things are connected, Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth. A human individual did not weave the web of life; they are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves" (p 38).

The chief goes on to talk of not being able to own God, the Creator and that through our desire to own everything, we are in danger of extinction. He says "Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste" (p 38). The quoted passage ends "The end of living and the beginning of survival... One thing we know, our God is the same God. The earth is precious to him. Even the white people cannot be exempt from the common destiny" (p 39).

We cannot escape from our own failure to retain the balance of our world. The more we regard ourselves as superior, the more we put ourselves in danger. Yet we continue the drive to promote an economic system that exploits the planet and other people.

Reference

Peace & Power: Being vocal, political and spiritual. (2010). Workshop - because faith is a journey. Course Notes. Anvil Trust.

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