“We are living beyond our means. As a people, we have developed a lifestyle that is draining the earth of its priceless and irreplaceable resources without regard for the future of our children and people all around the world.” ~ Margaret Mead, The Energy Crisis — Why Our World Will Never Again Be the Same, in Redbook (1974) …
Societies and cultures of today tend to push the narrative of accumulation and consumption, which is unfortunate, as holding on to things that fulfill no need in our lives only destroys the value of them. Food that is not eaten, spoils or is tossed away. Material goods that are purchased and then sit in storage, consume time being manufactured, created, processed, shipped, and so much more by others, and material that could be used and expended creating other necessary things in this world. And consuming more than our needs require leaves less for others who are without. And yet if our purpose in life is to make the lives of others better, then we have to be passionate and powerful stewards of this Earth and all the bounty that God has placed in our care.
On the one hand, this issue appears to be out of our control–it is a global problem that has to do with billions of individuals, most of whom we will never interact with ourselves. It is easy to see ourselves as just a speck on this planet and minimize our ability to make a difference. But on the other hand, the realities still exist; more importantly, we do have the ability to make a difference–our difference–in this world and in the lives of others. We can waste less food–only buying that which we intend to eat and give away anything we do not need. We can try to consume less fuel–perhaps by driving less often, using more optimal vehicles such as hybrids, walking, riding a bicycle, carpooling, or taking public transportation from time to time. We can save water by being more conscious of how much we are using and ensuring that it is not being unnecessarily wasted. We can recycle and reuse things such as refilling a bottle with water instead of buying new ones.
When it comes to living within our means, we should ask ourselves this question: “Do my lifestyle decisions contribute to the draining of the resources or do they contribute to the preservation of those resources?” When we drain this world of its resources unnecessarily, we become a burden to others and produce very little of value for others on this planet. However, each time we give of our time, our talents, our compassion and love, our knowledge and wisdom, our accumulated possessions, our excess and abundance, and so much more, we contribute–however small it may seem–towards making this world a better place for all its inhabitants. And in doing so, we also show gratitude and thanks towards our loving Creator who has blessed us all with such wonderful gifts. The entire world obviously is not within our realm of responsibility, but our children and grandchildren are counting on us to try to do our best.
Take some time today to contribute to the conservation of the natural resources around you.
Questions to consider:
In which ways do we most tend to overuse the resources available to us?
How many different resources do you make use of each day? Are you responsible with each of them?
What kinds of small changes might we make to start conserving at our own personal level?
For further thought:
“The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” ~ Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays