The faith response to the crisis facing the Earth and particularly the Chesapeake Bay Watershed starts with the realization that the natural world around us is amazing, beautiful, complex and finely tuned to create a habitat for many creatures to thrive and interact and be fulfilled in their own niches. The more closely one studies biology and ecology the more one marvels at its beauty and elegance. So the first response of the faithful person is one of joy and thanksgiving for all this creative beauty and our opportunity to be part of it.
It is not long, however, before one becomes painfully aware of the problems and the challenges, and painfully aware that it is we, apparently the most highly developed of the species, that have caused the damage to land and water. Even though this was largely through ignorance on our part, yet greed and arrogance led us to assume that whatever was good for human society and economic progress was acceptable, even desirable, whatever the cost to our environment. So the second response of faith must be the response of sorrow and repentance.
Knowing that it is within our power to make things better, to undo a lot of the damage, we are compelled to respond, to make amends, to make things better. Our faith must be expressed in action, to engage in those stewardship practices that favor sustainability.
Further, our actions must reflect the charity and concern for justice that is a valued part of all faith traditions. It is well established that the ill effects of environmental degradation affect the poorest people most severely. When the waters rise, it is the poorest communities that are generally affected worst. When air is polluted in the city, it is foulest in the poorest neighborhoods. A polluted stream is of most consequence to the poor man who fishes there to feed his family.
Finally, we people of faith have a duty to speak to the wider society of which we are a part. We must uphold the values that are dear to us and which we believe are important for the future of humankind. We should seek and take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves to witness to the truths we hold dear and to advocate for a future that is more just and more mindful of our place within the Creation.
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