SPIRITUALITY, POLITICS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The ways our spirituality and our politics interact can be profoundly significant. Recently, during a very pleasant conversation I was told that God gave us dominion over the earth. That comment startled me then and has bothered me ever since, germinating a few thoughts along the way.
It seems wholly outrageous that our Creator would put us in charge of something as complex as this planet – at least as outrageous as the idea of us accepting the offer. How could we even consider dominating the earth when just by tweaking the carbon dioxide settings in our atmosphere we’re doing such weird things to our climate – spring weather in Wisconsin’s February among them. By early March my tulips had poked their fingers above ground; now I’m hoping they’ll survive the recent cold spell.
Not as dramatic as the ongoing destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and the melting of Greenland ice and of both poles, I know. But things happening right here in Marathon County really help me focus. My cross country skis haven’t been used since mid-February and the snowmobile trail down the road was open for all of two weeks this winter – again.
I can’t help but wonder just who should have dominion over the planet each of us depends on? Should it be me? You? Trump? The UN? Maybe Jane Goodall? Probably it should be Pope Francis. Whoever, if they goof up we will all pay dearly.
Further, it seems we rarely respect what we dominate. In fact, we tend to misuse it for our own, shortsighted purposes. Some men dominate and abuse women, sometimes women do it to men. Some folks dominate and abuse their kids. Each day I pick up the trash thrown out of car windows on my beautiful country road. I’d say we suffer from too much “dominion” already.
There is another way we can experience Creation, though, and that is with awe and reverence, fully aware of the divinity in God’s earthy handiwork. Wherever we walk, we walk on hallowed ground. From such a spiritual vantage point we can clearly see how blessed by the majestic intricacy of earth’s countless, interconnected systems we are. Out of love and gratitude for our holy planet we’d be careful to protect it, rather than dominate and carelessly pollute it. Certainly we’d demand that our legislators take action on climate change before we all discover, as folks caught in a drought or a flood, exactly where the power of dominion really lies.
Lest some of us think that given the present state of American politics all hope is lost, some courageous, Republican legislators have sent out a message of hope by joining the House Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. Seventeen of them recently introduced a Climate Resolution to find an economically balanced way of combating climate change. This is laudable, but more voices are needed. We ought to let them and Representative Sean Duffy know how much we approve, and then ask him to get on board too.