Earth Day: Being Green, Trendy, and Advocating for a Cause

I once heard some very smart person say that the people whose beliefs are most suited for celebrating Earth Day, are Christians. Why? Well, because we believe we are given a gift of creation. We are part of that creation which has purpose, while the opposing view is that chance made us part of an earth that apparently exists and is still evolving. Yet, we have a gift we are challenged to be good stewards of. We believe in life. Whether this is saving a baby, saving a whale, or saving a baby whale, it is our responsibility. So, Happy Earth Day!

Now, let me make myself clear. I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, even though I like to shop at farmer’s markets. I believe God gave us this earth to use its resources. But using is different than misusing. Sure, you can call me a tree-hugger. In fact, in an hour or so I am going to be planting baby trees with some teens. I sometimes use reusable shopping bags and I use cloth diapers on my baby’s booty. I grew up in California, where we think the whole world recycles in perfect harmony. Its something kids do for fun on a Saturday morning, instead of watching cartoons. We also like to save the whales on Saturdays. Saturdays are busy days in California. Really, though, I should confess, I can be obsessive about recycling. In fact, just the day before yesterday I was fuming mad because our new recycling service will not take “clam-shells” (the plastic things that strawberries and such come in). The audacity! Lastly, in effort to prove where I stand when it comes to being “green,” I hate pesticides, and harsh chemicals (besides bleach) because I have had bad experiences with them. I am far from a green activist, but I would say I am more green than the average Joe. Or Josephine.

And then, one day, I realized everyone else thought being green was cool. The cheapest shirts I can find for my kids from Target or Walmart have “Save the Earth” written on them. I remember having a distinct conversation with my cousin about how we were grossed out by how being green became a trend. But, since I believe I am at the front-line of the trend (whether true or not), I am okay with it. You see, I don’t mind being a trend-setter.  I only mind being a trend-lager. Which, mind you, is not a type of beer.

Some characteristics of human nature influence the way we are green, besides just flowing down the trend-pipe. Psychology has a term for when everyone doesn’t do something because they think someone else will. I don’t know what it is, although I can assure you I have studied it. For example, if there is a crime, and there are many people to witness it, its more likely that no one will actually call the police. Also, in CPR training, we are taught to direct a specific person to call 911, or else that too likely won’t happen. On a similar, although different stream, humans tend to do another illogical thing I don’t know the term for. This is an example: if I feel like I did a good job running a mile today, I will happily go home a drink a 900 calorie milkshake.

All of these things can apply to being green. If everyone is doing something for the planet, its okay if I don’t do something. Or, since I bought Seventh Generation soap today, I can justify cleaning my bathroom with the unknown ingredient death killer cleaner. Therefore, the way the human mind thinks mixed with being green solely for the coolness factor, doesn’t necessarily change much to make our planet better. It might a little; it is better than nothing. Yet, if you actually care about creation, challenge yourself to take a next step. Especially if your motivation is it to honor God, rather than be part of a trend.

I read this article today that my husband sent me which I mostly fully agreed with. Take a skim:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/236722/page/1

Often, what this article is talking about can be applied to activism in general. Activism is an art. You motivate for a cause, which many people just don’t really care about. They might care, but not enough to really do something about it that is meaningful.  I read a study the other day which was talking about how the whole cause to end genocide in Darfur has almost single handily been brought about through activism. This is amazing! This proves that in our global, technological world, being an advocate for a cause makes a difference and can actually start a global movement. Everyone has heard of Darfur, thanks to awareness campaigns, new organizations that have been birthed, and just everyday, grassroots movements coming from average people like you or me. Even so, the main people who really can make a serious difference, by forcing change, are governments and international organizations. Who haven’t done too much.

Why do I bring this up? Thanks to people advocating for Darfur, there is money, political pressure, prayers, and support networks for those in the Darfur region. The good ol’ activists have made a difference. And, at the same time, for a greater difference to be made, those with the most power (yes, bureaucracies) need more pressure.So, if you want to make a green difference, the same principle applies. You can’t justifiably be claiming to make a serious difference unless you are also trying to create peaceful political pressure. I am not saying you need to write your congressman, but I think we do need to have our veil of ignorance fall off. The veil which allows us to pose as being trendy green while we really aren’t willing to take the steps which are shown to have impact. I think it is okay if being more earth friendly is not your passion; its not mine. But I do want to honor God. Therefore I want to be responsible. And I want to use my minimal greenness to portray to my green friends about how Jesus probably didn’t hate environmentalists (as so many cultural American Christians instead seem to portray, being very anti-“save the earth”).

So, what are the lessons to be learned? Support a cause. Support caring for the earth (although, I highly suggest caring for the people of the earth, prioritizing that). But, as you support it, pick it up a notch. Do something more, something than has more value than just buying an overpriced piece of recycled paper that you can write on and throw in the trash. More importantly, move from just doing or being something because of a trend, to doing so because you care a smidgen. As you do that, you will rub off on other people. These other people might be doing it just because of the trendiness of it at first, but someday they might care about the cause, also.

Thank you God for this beautiful world you have blessed us with! Let your creation sing of your glory until Jesus comes back again, and makes a new world which will not fall apart on us! 

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2 responses to “Earth Day: Being Green, Trendy, and Advocating for a Cause

  1. LOVED this Elisa! Loved it loved it!!!!

  2. The Bystander Effect, and the Diffusion of Responsibility are some of those "official" terms 🙂

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