Jun 5 2011

Looking For Recruits

At the bottom of the e-mails Rob Sheppard sends you will find this saying by Baba Dioum: “In the end we will conserve only what we love.  We love only what we understand.  We will understand only what we are taught.”  After reading this weekend an essay in the New York Times based on a commencement address given by Jonathan Franzen I understand this saying a lot better than I did before.

In his commencement address (given at Kenyon College) Franzen draws a clear distinction between liking and loving something or someone.  Drawing on his personal experience he said, “When I was in college, and for many years after, I liked the natural world.  Didn’t love it, but definitely liked it.”  He goes on to say “It can be very pretty, nature.  And since I was looking for things to find wrong with the world, I naturally gravitated to environmentalism, because there were certainly plenty of things wrong with the environment.  And the more I looked at what was wrong—an exploding world population, exploding levels of resource consumption, rising global temperatures, the trashing of oceans, the logging of our last old-growth forests—the angrier I became.”

Franzen admits his concern for the environment eventually waned when he realized that “there was nothing meaningful that I personally could do to save the planet, and I wanted to get on with devoting myself to things I loved.”  Things changed however when he fell in love with birds and became a devoted birdwatcher.  His love for birds forced him once more to become involved in environmental issues.  He felt he had to.  “Because now, not merely liking nature but loving a specific and vital part of it, I had no choice but to start worrying about the environment again.  The news on that front was no better than when I decided to quit worrying about it—was considerably worse, in fact—but now those threatened forests and wetlands and oceans weren’t just pretty scenes for me to enjoy.  They were the home of animals I loved.”

When I read these words I couldn’t help but think of the quote at the bottom of Rob’s e-mails.  It’s true; “in the end we will conserve only what we loveWe love only what we understand.  We will understand only what we are taught.” If you are concerned about what’s happening to God’s Creation you would be wise to remember this truth.  In all likelihood you already love what God has made and are trying to make a difference in caring for the earth.   Others aren’t there yet, however, and one of our jobs as good stewards is recruiting others to join us.  One way we can do this is by helping others develop a love for nature.  We can encourage people to get to know the flora and fauna of their area.  We can help them better understand the goodness of God’s Creation and how all parts of it are important and work together.  Many people simply haven’t been taught these things.  Speaking of the gospel the apostle Paul once asked, “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”  (Romans 10:14) The same thing might be asked about sharing God’s love and concern for the earth.  How can they hear without someone teaching them? Someone like you perhaps…


(I took both of the images above in Florida.  The herons and egret were photographed at Venice and the burrowing owl in Marcos.)