Today I went for a walk with the kids in the countryside surrounding the village in which we live, an area consisting of farmland, dirt paths, and small woods. The weather was great, so it was a good opportunity for the kids to get some fresh air and exercise as they ran around looking for the little creatures that are abundant in spring and summer.
It was an enjoyable break for me as well. Out on those country trails there are no computers, no pressing work, no chores, no meetings, no messes to clean up, and none of the myriad of other things that keep us busy most of the day.
My son Anthony is a bright,active, three-year-old who loves to learn new things. A while back, his favorite topic of conversation was lightning. He never seemed to tire of talking about storms, about how buildings sometimes catch fire when hit by lightning, and so on. When he began acting out those scenarios with his Playmobile people and Lego blocks, I channeled his thoughts and energy more positively by teaching him about how Benjamin Franklin had invented the lightning rod to avert such disasters.
I was looking at a tree outside my window and thinking how beautiful and perfect it is,producing exactlywhat God designed it to produce, fruitful and flowering, strong and beautiful, fulfilling its mission in life. A tree is a vision of the perfection of God’s creation. Even if a tree is struck by lightning, toppled in a storm, or cut down, the root will send forth new shoots, new life. Isn’t that beautiful?
God made the forests, the tiny stars, and the wild winds—and I think that he made them partly as a balance forthat kind of civilization that would choke the spirit of joy out of our hearts. He made the great open places for the people who want to be alone with him and talk to him, away from the crowds that kill all reverence. And I think that he is glad at times to have us forget our cares and responsibilities that we may be nearer him—as Jesus was when he crept away into the wilderness to pray.
—Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole [of] nature in its beauty.
Finding ways to reduce our consumption,reuse items, and recycle are practical ways in which each of us can care for the environment. As a bonus, these simple measures will often help trim household expenses.
Waste reduction starts when you’re shopping. If you regularly throw away spoiled or out-of-date food, you’re buying too much. The same applies to the meals you prepare. If you often throw away leftovers, cook less.
Avoid buying items that you expect to use onlya few times. Rent or borrow instead, when possible.
As I was growing up,my parents taught me good habits such as conserving electricity and water, not being wasteful with food, and finding new uses for items that had outlived their original purposes. Our family didn’t have a lot of money, so taking good care of the things we did have was a logical, practical choice. It never occurred to me to equate these practices with environmentalism.
As a teen, mostly through my love of reading the newspaper, I sometimes became aware of environmental issues, but usually only when activists did something extreme to draw attention to their cause or to “right a wrong”—theft, arson, violent demonstration, and so on. To my teenage mind, those issues seemed far less important than the wars, crimes, and other violence being reported on those same pages. Asa result, I associated environmentalism with only the more radical elements, and the term “environmentalist” with those who engaged in bizarre vigilante activities. I continued with the commonsense practices I’d learned as a child, but still didn’t connect this with taking personal responsibility for protecting our environment.