I just finished a wonderful book called In Defense of Civility by James Calvin Davis.  It is a remarkable book that challenges us to learn to speak respectfully and to listen respectfully to each other as we face difficult and challenging issues.  In no manner does the author attempt to tell people to not disagree or to expect to completely change a person’s mind, but approach these discussions with the realization that the person speaking to you should receive the same respect you would like to receive.  Reminds me of a piece of wisdom I have seen somewhere else, “Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you.”

James Calvin Davis challenges us to search for the common ground between our differences and to start working from there.  There are wonderful examples in this book that show that the media’s representation of debate is focused upon the polar ends of any debate.  Rarely do we see that these polar extremes do not represent the majority of thought.  We also must overcome the created fear of learning something new that may change how we see the debate.  This is the fear of waffling.  Rarely have I met anyone that has never changed their opinion on something at least once in their lives.  I wouldn’t eat spinach for years and would never touch greens.  Thankfully, I learned they aren’t so bad after all.

We do not need to debate over climate change and whether or not humanity has an impact on what is happening to our climate.  We have only to remember that the earth is God’s creation and we are the stewards responsible for that creation.  In 1969, I watched the news cover the burning Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland.  In order to save money companies and individuals dumped all sorts of chemicals and waste in the river.  One day a spark was struck and the river caught fire.  The fireboats could not follow standard practice of pumping river water to put out the fire.  Fortunately, they were able to put out the fire and people responded to the image of burning water and insisted on change.  At the same time it was not possible to swim in Lake Erie without consulting the latest test of the E-coli levels.  By the mid 1980’s, I could take my children swimming in Lake Erie, and the river walk along the Cuyahoga was the place people went in the evening.  Now it is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the ballpark for the Cleveland Indians.

What changed?  People and corporate boards decided that protecting the air, water, and land was worth making some sacrifices.  Unfortunately, we have gone back in the other direction.  E-coli counts are again necessary before swimming in Lake Erie.

We can recycle, reuse, or repurpose all sorts of things rather than just tossing them into a pile and building a new hill or filling a hole that will someday become a new subdivision.  We can treat God’s creation with the respect we are to show God.  I am amazed at the number of people I have seen smoking in the their cars who toss their ashes and cigarette butts out of the window rather than placing them in an ashtray in the car; or who use their ashtray and then dump it out on the ground.  Drive down any road and see if you can cover one mile without seeing some trash along the street.  Do you remember Iron Eyes Cody looking out at the polluted world and shedding a single tear?  Would he shed more today?

Forget the debate about carbon footprints and green house gases. Use less, recycle or repurpose more.  Seek better ways to lessen the amount of waste and the amount of water you use.  These are gifts from God.  Treat them as if God had personally placed them before you.  Give thanks for the sun and the rain; give thanks for the bees and maybe occasionally the gnats and mosquitoes.  A few extra minutes a day to place recyclables in a bin and to drop them off at a recycling center is not a huge price to pay for God’s creation.  Maybe we can get enough demand to insist that the city pick up recyclables from our curbs along with the contents of the trashcan.

On the sixth day God looked at all that had been made and said “It is very good.”  Wouldn’t it be nice for God to be able to say that again after millions and millions of days?

Shalom, Darrell