A friend was talking with Kristin about her garden the other day.
"I wish my soil wasn't so thick and compacted and hard."
Kristin: "Well, that's why I've mulched this one so much." Our garden has fruit trees and fava beans blooming; asparagus, potatoes, and peas sprouting; kale, collards, chives, and swiss chard already at or near harvestable stage; garlic growing quickly.
Her friend sipped her tea. "I know, but I've got a commitment problem. I never know whether I'm going to be here next year, or not."
Kristin raised an eyebrow. "Well, what's your commitment to the earth?"
"What do you mean?"
"My dear, you don't have to do it for you. You take all your food from the earth, and give nothing back. You can do it for the earth, or for the next person to live there."
The sound of lightbulbs going on.
We have an amazingly self-centered culture. I may be wrong, but I put the fault at a mistake made long ago, written in stone in the first chapter of the Bible: Go forth, and subdue the earth, and have dominion over it; God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed… and every tree; etc. No one remembers that the first part of that commandment is "replenish the earth," and the reason no one remembers it is because the entire paradigm of our culture is in direct opposition to it.
We belong to a culture that says, "The earth belongs to us, to do with as we please."
In fact, as Chief Seattle said, we belong to the Earth. "Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."
As a species, and as a society, I believe there is nothing more important to our survival than to make that simple paradigm shift. But when I see how the dominant religions in the world – especially, in our country, Christianity – all agree on the domination paradigm, I'm not optimistic.
Ironically, I think Chief Seattle's paradigm was exactly what Jesus was trying to get at, when he said, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; … Seek ye first the kingdom of God." The Earth is the kingdom of god; and we should return to Mother Nature Her dominion over us. We should take from Her gently, and nurture Her in return.
But of course, interpreted from a domination paradigm, the message is different. The kingdom is something that only happens after we die – after the Earth has been stripped, raped, and barren – and we get there by making damn sure that homosexuals can't get married.
Never mind that they go ahead and do it anyway, just without the legal and civil rights that fine, upstanding christians take for granted.