By Lewis Willis
Until now, I have been a private environmentalist. Not anymore! In the past I have been totally “turned off” by the public displays of environmentalist groups. All of us have heard of Earth Day, which is an effort to get us to realize what we are doing to this place where we live. The protest movements at various sites of environmental damage have inspired as much disgust as they have sympathy for the cause. It was frightening to learn of the threat to residential health at Love Canal. It was disgusting to learn of a movement to shut down a sawmill town of 30,000 in Washington, putting people out of work, to save 10 owls. Animals of various kinds and sizes have become extinct throughout history. While it is bad that modern children cannot see them, our civilization has survived the loss. There are still a lot of animals and birds around. Thus, I will not join any marches to promote the cause.
However, even though we are not out protesting, isn’t it a cause of concern what we are doing to the earth? We see scenes of smog pollution in Los Angeles, with the accompanying protest by people who have flown in from all over the country. The smog is caused mostly by car, truck and airplane exhaust. Do these environmentalist think the planes they flew in on burn water for fuel, and emit no harmful smog-causing exhaust emissions? They are not very consistent. But though they are not consistent, we have to agree that we are messing up this place!
Last Saturday, a week ago, was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and there was a spring-like feel in the air. I swept out the mud and salt the cars had brought into the garage through the Winter. I swept up the leaves that had blown inside the patio fence. I even washed a couple of windows. I decided to pick up the papers that had blown onto the lawn since last fall. It was appalling to see the garbage that was there. Empty cigarette packages, gum wrappers, straws, shipping tape, hamburger boxes and wrapping, beer cans – I could go on. Things which thoughtless, uncaring people just decided to throw down on the ground because they were too stinking lazy to take them to a trash can. I wonder about the mentality of people sometimes. I have never tasted beer in my lifetime, but I could not tell you how many beer cans and bottles I have picked up off my lawn, deposited there by ignorant people who think they have a right to throw their trash any where they want to. The church parking lot joins my backyard. I found numerous huge globs of chewed gum that had been thrown onto the lawn. You know, that gum disappears into the snow when snow is on the ground, but it is always there for someone to have to pick up or step in when the snow melts. How do you feel when you step in the gum of somebody who believed they had a right to throw it on the sidewalk? About the same as when you stepped in it on the lawn? Have we reached a point where we do not even care about the way we are trashing up this place where we live? Were we raised to do things like this?
The Bible says that God created the earth (Gen. 1:1). Solomon said that the Lord used his wisdom in making the earth (Prov. 3:19). David said the earth is full of God’s riches (Psa. 104:24). His glory and handiwork are shown by his creation (Psa. 19:1). The earth is the Lord’s (Psa. 24:1; 1 Chron. 29:11). When God had completed his creative work, he declared it “good.” God then made man and delivered to him his beautiful creation (Gen. 1:27-31). He did not put man in the Garden of Eden to trash it. He put man in Eden to dress it and to keep it (Gen. 2:15). The very first problem encountered by the earth was produced by man’s sin. “Thorns and thistles” appeared on the earth as punishment for the sin of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:18). The fortunes of the earth have been going downhill ever since.
I do not suppose we should be terribly surprised at this. The church manifests the wisdom of God who brought it into existence (Eph. 3:10-11). It is his handiwork (Eph. 2:10). But, look what men have done with the church of God. In like manner, the earth manifests the wisdom of God who brought it into existence. It is his handiwork. But, look what man has done with the earth.
It seems that it is past time for God-fearing people to realize the blessing we have in the earth that God provided for us and start taking care of it. The plastic bags we bring our groceries home in, and which we use in disposing of our garbage, will be around in landfills for no one knows how long. I don’t know what to do about that, but, it is not necessary for me to drive down the highway, or in front of your house, and throw my trash out the window of my car. Somebody has to pick it up, unless I decide not to throw it down. Thousands of dollars in taxes are spent yearly picking up trash on the nation’s highways, which could be used for something productive if we would just stop and think what we are doing. Somebody even had to pick up the trash left by those who gathered to celebrate Earth Day. These great environmentalists just threw their trash on the ground like everybody else! A federal program is not needed to solve the problem of neighborhood trash. We just need to think about what we are doing to God’s creation.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 11, p. 328
June 6, 1991