This post will be a change from what I've been writing about lately. It's not about politics or Obama, which I've been getting pretty tired of actually. Instead, I'm going to write about my views on a subject that can be made political and even spiritual, though it really shouldn't be. Since this is the first day of March, the month that spring begins, I'm going to write about the environment.
I am not, repeat NOT, an environmentalist. To me, that word has too many negative associations and connotations. When I hear the word "environmentalist" I immediately picture eco-freaks who chain themselves to trees, set fire to housing developments, throw paint on people wearing fur coats, and actually worship the earth. I picture people for whom nature is an actual god and "saving" it is their religion. That's NOT me!
Don't get me wrong. I don't believe in abusing nature. I don't believe in polluting the earth. I want clean air and clean water. I want a healthy food supply. I believe we should reduce, reuse, and/or recycle as much as we can. I believe we should diversify our energy sources and use fossil fuels less and less. In short, I want a clean earth, but I want it the way I want a clean bath tub. For me it's primarily a matter of practicality. And I think that's where I and most other conservatives part ways with the left on the issue of the environment.
For many left-wingers environmentalism is, as I've said, a religion. It's a kind of neo-paganism that is very antithetical to the Judeo-Christian worldview, which many leftists often blame for environmental destruction. Many leftists are militantly "secular" vis-a-vis Biblical monotheism, but they still have a spiritual hunger. They want a "god", though, that won't make the same demands on them that the Bible's God does. Leftists especially don't want a god who tells them how to live their sexual lives. They found such a "god" in Mother Nature.
I'm a conservative who cares about the environment. I'm not looking for a god. I already have one, thank you very much. Nevertheless, I understand people need to protect nature even as we use it to meet our needs. And I do believe that we humans have a right to use nature to meet our needs. We just need to be careful about how we do it. If we cut down trees for lumber, for instance, we need to make sure we replenish the forest. Planting two trees for every one we fell makes good sense. That will keep the forest growing, which means there'll always be lumber for us to use. Keeping the forest lush and healthy will certainly benefit wildlife, and that's a good thing, but the ultimate objective is providing for human need. And that's another place where I part company with the leftist, neo-pagan environmentalists.
I believe in taking care of the natural world, but I don't see that as an end in itself. The environmentalists do. Sure, I think we should keep many natural places unspoiled and pristine. Natural beauty is a gift from God. I mean that; it's not a platitude for me. However, the natural world also was meant to be the source for all that humans need to live. That, too, is a gift from God. And that's where the spiritual component of caring for nature comes in for me.
I don't see nature as a self-existing end in itself. I see it as God's creation. It IS God's creation. And so are people. We, nature, and animals are all "equal" in that we are all creations of God, but God has made us qualitatively different. Humans are superior to animals and nature. We alone are created in God's image. We alone have the ability to worship God and do His will. And His will is for us to take care of nature. People are to be good stewards of the natural world that God made for us. Stewardship, not environmentalism, is the word for me.
We are to take good care of this garden that is the earth because it belongs to God. We have a God-given right to use any and all natural resources to meet our needs. We don't have the right, though, to abuse or misuse the earth or anything on it. Felling trees for lumber to build homes is good; wantonly hacking down every tree in sight is not. Killing animals for food is good; hunting animals to extinction is not. We humans didn't create anything on the earth, including ourselves; therefore, we have no right to wipe any creature out. That is an affront to God's sovereignty. Caring for the natural world and using its abundance wisely is showing reverence for God and His sovereignty.
I say it again. I'm a conservative who cares about the earth as many other conservatives do. I care about it in both a practical and a spiritual way. I believe humans are the highest lifeform on the planet and have a God-given right to rule it, but not abuse it. We are subject to God's authority and will answer to Him for any unbridled misuse of His creation. That reality, more than any fear of some natural apocalypse or any belief that nature is divine, is what motivates me to do my small part to maintain the ecological balance. This is God's world; He expects nothing less.