environmentalism & faith

My wife and I had the great pleasure of seeing Avatar last night in 3D.  Amazing.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth seeing if only for the experience of a truly immersive 3D movie.  That’s not what I want to talk about, though.

The story of the movie brings up a good critique of our society’s treatment of our planet, albeit in a very extreme sense.  On one side you have the humans (us) not caring about nature whatsoever and taking the resources they want through destructive force.  On the other side you have the natives (the Na’vi) who are in harmony with nature and represent the exact opposite.  I certainly don’t buy into the paganistic view they’re shown to have in their connection of nature and their god.  The dynamic between these two races, however, really brings to light the issue of environmentalism and I was wondering how that balances with my faith and other responsibilities.

As a Catholic, I often wonder how far we should take our view and treatment of the planet.  How much are we called to do, as part of our faith and love for God?  I believe that all of this is His creation and that we’re to treat it with love, just as we would for the people he created.  At the same time, I think a lesser emphasis should be placed on loving our earth as we place on loving others.  I would think that we’re judged on our treatment of other people first, then treatment of animals and our planet second.  All of them are important, but I think they do come in some form of hierarchy.

With that said, I think we need to bear some responsibility for our own actions.  Things like recycling, wasting less, supporting programs and companies that are more responsible are all things that we can personally be held accountable for.  All of us doing our share adds up, but feeling guilty for the actions of others won’t do any of us any good (neither will placing judgment on those we don’t think are doing their part).  There’s a very fine line between being actively “green” and negatively affecting others through pushing them to do so as well.  Think of the relationship with that person first and lead by example through your actions.

I look at this the same way I look at my faith and how I approach that with others.  I hold myself accountable for my own actions and take a serious look at where I should improve.  I don’t want anyone judging my progress, so in turn I shouldn’t judge theirs.  The last thing I want is someone challenging my faith, so I don’t go out of my way to do that to others.  The same should be true of my values in regards to my lifestyle and how that affects our planet.  I would hope that others have similar values, but it’s God’s responsibility to hold them accountable, not me.

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