Stand With The Earth Against Trump And Congress

Stand With The Earth Against Trump And Congress February 22, 2017

In one of his annual letters given out on the first of September, the beginning of the new ecclesiastical year in the East, Patriarch Bartholomew wrote of the combined guilt of evil leadership and their irresponsible followers for the destruction taking place on the face of the earth:

Unfortunately, the coercion of nature to act destructively against itself and the human race not only derives from the will of certain evil leaders but also is supported by many who deny their own responsibility. It comes from the consenting will of thousands of individuals, without whose psychological support these leaders would not be able to accomplish anything. [1]

Each and everyone one of us, as we ignore our own responsibility to the earth, must recognize our own guilt for the rape of the earth. When our nations elect leaders who make it clear that they are more interested in business profits then they are for the long term good of their nation by leaving behind a sustainable, livable environment, we must not stand back and do nothing. We must not consent to their crimes against the earth.  As Pope Francis has said, the earth is now crying out, our sins having inflicted upon it many grave wounds:

This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.[2]

Saint Francis Preaching to the Birds by Giotto [Public Domain] via WikimediaCommons
Saint Francis Preaching to the Birds by Giotto [Public Domain] via WikimediaCommons
We must not ignore the earth and our responsibility to it. We must not act like Gnostics and ignore the goodness of the material world, thinking that our destiny is apart from it. The Christian is one who cannot tolerate the beauty of God’s art being defaced. It is beautiful and therefore good and it is a Christian’s duty to preserve and protect – if not elevate—that goodness as thanks to God himself. Thus, Patriarch Bartholomew rightfully said:

According to the Church Fathers, a merciful heart will not only seek the heavenly kingdom and sense that it has no abiding city here on earth, seeking instead the heavenly city; it also cannot tolerate any harm to animals and plants, indeed even to the inanimate elements of nature. Such a person recognizes a value in nature, too, a relative value given by God Himself who created it. Such a spirit should characterize every Christian. [3]

For this reason, Christians should not shrug their shoulders when the earth is under attack, but rather, should work long and hard with anyone and everyone seeking its just preservation. Americans should be quite concerned about the direction the United States is going under its new President, when the President and Congress show more concern about corporate profits than they are with the ecological impact of their de-regulation and elimination of environmental concerns. This is a pro-life concern, because lack of a healthy environment will kill, even as it will maim and harm future generations. This is a pro-justice concern, because the rich which exploit the earth for their own greed spread the effects of their sin upon the community which permits their sin. Indeed, when businesses are given priority over peoples who have long suffered injustice at the hands of the American government,  such injustice cries up to heaven demanding satisfaction. This is a Christian concern, because God came into the world to save it from the sins which have defiled it, and those who allow such sin to remain have therefore rejected one of God’s goals for the incarnation. Indeed, Pope Francis made it clear, from the very beginning God has said humanity has responsibility for the well-being of all which live upon the earth:

This responsibility for God’s earth means that human beings, endowed with intelligence, must respect the laws of nature and the delicate equilibria existing between the creatures of this world, for “he commanded and they were created; and he established them for ever and ever; he fixed their bounds and he set a law which cannot pass away” (Ps 148:5b-6). The laws found in the Bible dwell on relationships, not only among individuals but also with other living beings. “You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and withhold your help… If you chance to come upon a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting upon the young or upon the eggs; you shall not take the mother with the young” (Dt 22:4, 6). Along these same lines, rest on the seventh day is meant not only for human beings, but also so “that your ox and your donkey may have rest” (Ex 23:12). Clearly, the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.[4]

We must not falter. When evil leaders accept the destruction of the earth as an acceptable by-product of their greed, we must not accept their leadership and instead denounce it, lest we become complicit with the evil and justly suffer its consequences with them.


 

[1] Patriarch Bartholomew, Encyclical Letter September 1, 1998 in Cosmic Grace. Humble Prayer. The Ecological Vision of the Green Patriarch Bartholomew. ed. John Chryssavgis (Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2009), 52.

[2] Pope Francis I. Laudato si’. Vatican Translation. ¶2.

[3] Patriarch Bartholomew, Encyclical Letter September 1, 1997 in Cosmic Grace. Humble Prayer. The Ecological Vision of the Green Patriarch Bartholomew. ed. John Chryssavgis (Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2009), 50.

[4] Pope Francis I. Laudato si’, ¶68.

 

 

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