Care for cre­ation must be cen­tral

The Victoria Standard - - Commentary - GUEST ED­I­TO­RIAL

The fol­low­ing are ex­cerpts from a key­note ad­dress that Deb­bie Poirier of Aspy Bay gave on Nov. 5 at the Women's Ec­u­meni­cal Con­fer­ence held in Baddeck.

We (mankind) share one des­tiny. To­day, I plan to dis­cuss the “why” - why we should care about cre­ation? Care for cre­ation is as cen­tral to the Chris­tian faith as love, jus­tice and peace.

Think about the choice to source most our en­ergy from fos­sil fu­els, from coal, oil and nat­u­ral gas. That en­ergy cre­ated in­dus­tries that brought un­dreamed pros­per­ity. But what of the costs of us­ing fos­sil fu­els? Oil spills, and the in­crease of car­bon diox­ide in the at­mos­phere are just two.

Over the years, com­mit­ments have been made to re­duce our harm­ful im­pact on the planet. We want a greener, cleaner earth, but we all want our cars, our cozy homes and, of course, our elec­tron­ics. Many of the ac­tiv­i­ties we do ev­ery day like turn­ing on the lights, cook­ing meals or heat­ing and cooling their homes rely on fos­sil fuel en­ergy sources that emit car­bon diox­ide and other heat­trap­ping gases.

Canada is a coun­try of wet­lands - swamps, marshes and bugs. These wet­lands cover 13% of our na­tion. Many of Canada’s im­por­tant bird sanc­tu­ar­ies oc­cur in these wet­lands. Wet­lands act as gi­ant green pa­per tow­els on the land­scape. They ab­sorb flood­wa­ters that spill into our rivers and brooks. I learned that in Nova Sco­tia alone, 50% of coastal salt marshes are now gone.

En­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion, from filthy air to con­tam­i­nated wa­ter, is killing more peo­ple ev­ery year then all the war and vi­o­lence in the world. His Ho­li­ness, the Dalai Lama, is quoted as say­ing, “Pol­lu­tion is a very se­ri­ous is­sue. It is not a ques­tion of one na­tion or two na­tions, but of the sur­vival and health of all of hu­man­ity. If we have a clear con­science about this prob­lem and be­have ac­cord­ingly, it seems there’s a way to at least lessen this prob­lem.”

There is hope, if we uti­lize new tech­nol­ogy. Con­gre­ga­tions should be ex­am­in­ing how en­ergy-ef­fi­cient our build­ings are. I know, I know, for some of us, we are so in­tent to keep­ing our churches afloat, we aren’t ready to take on one more pro­ject.

Think small steps.

Last year, I learned about the elec­tronic en­ergy me­ter. I pur­chased one in Syd­ney at a cost of $20. This me­ter mon­i­tors ap­pli­ances and iden­ti­fies those that con­sume the most en­ergy. Per­haps your church group could pur­chase one and pass it around for the mem­bers to as­sess the ef­fi­ciency of their ap­pli­ances. Two churches in my com­mu­nity made a con­scious ef­fort to re­duce their oil con­sump­tion. Rather than hav­ing the ther­mo­stat set at 20° in win­ter and run through­out the night, the ther­mo­stat is set to 10° and a vol­un­teer goes in early the morn­ing of the ser­vice and in­creases the set­ting to 20°. Yes, it means some­one nearby must make a trip early in the morn­ing, but we are con­sum­ing less fuel. It is my opin­ion that we have much to learn from the First Na­tions re­la­tion­ship with the earth and all liv­ing things. In the past, when Lot­tie [John­son] con­ducted the sun­rise ser­vice, she ex­plained that indige­nous peo­ple be­lieve that they are care­tak­ers of mother Earth. Those in­di­vid­u­als re­spect Mother Earth’s gifts of wa­ter, air and fire. First Na­tions are taught that they should only take what they need. Care must be taken so that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will not be put in peril.

In­ter­con­nect­ed­ness is a cen­tral core of First Na­tions, Inuit and Métis world­views. Speak­ing as a mem­ber of the United Church, I won­der how many of our mem­bers con­sider or ex­cept the no­tion that every­thing in the uni­verse is con­nected.

In 1986, the 31st Gen­eral Coun­sel of the United Church of Canada apol­o­gized to First Na­tions peo­ples. To quote mod­er­a­tor Bob Smith, “Long be­fore my peo­ple jour­ney to this land, you’re peo­ple were here, and you re­ceive from your elders and un­der­stand­ing of cre­ation aunt of the mys­tery that sur­rounds us all – that was deep and rich and to be trea­sured.”

Per­haps your church group could in­vite indige­nous speak­ers to give a pre­sen­ta­tion on the seven sa­cred teach­ings. Or com­mu­nity mem­bers could visit one of the cul­tural and her­itage cen­ters or spend an af­ter­noon at the Mi’kmaq Re­source Cen­ter at Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity.

If we love our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, we must pro­tect, heal and treat cre­ation with rev­er­ence. We have to ed­u­cate our­selves on the con­di­tion of this planet and what the fu­ture is go­ing to look like.

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