August 17, 2016
Where can one find wonderful literary alliteration, unique rhyming patterns, and an interesting take on environmental practices? Dr. Seuss of course! “The Lorax” is a wonderful book and movie that has a pretty focused environmental theme. If you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, you should. It focuses on the story of the Once-Ler, who destroyed an entire ecosystem. Truffula trees are chopped down and the Brown Bar-ba-Loots, Swomee Swans, and Humming-fish (Dr. Seuss sure is creative) are all forced to abandon their homes due to pollution, food shortage and disease. The Once-Ler’s remorse over his initial removal of the trees is short-lived and he gets lost in his dreams of success. He becomes self-absorbed, unloving, and full of greed.
Some of the principles in this story really resonate with the staff here at Student Activities Outdoor Recreation. We have adopted the seven principals of Leave No Trace and try our best to use resources responsibly and teach participants these same ethics. We are in no means perfect in our execution, but we believe in opening up more discussion about these ideas and are regularly making changes to our programs. Our care for the environment is not an act of worship towards creation; we see it as an act of service to our Creator.
John Piper makes a case for stewardship in a recent podcast by asking “Are you loving others”? He uses the biblical command from Matthew 22 where Jesus tells us to “Love the Lord your God” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. You may not personally be destroying rainforests or creating toxic sludge, but the everyday decisions that you make do have a role. Do you care about the people who drink the water that you pollute with your unnecessary waste? Or do you love the people who do not get to take advantage of the extra energy that you use? In this sense, do we become any less self-centered than the Once-Ler in Dr. Seuss’s story?
Taking care of the environment is first loving God. He created the Earth and stewardship becomes an act of gratitude towards the Creator. We are also demonstrating compassion for our current and future neighbors, whoever they may be. We may never even meet them, but we are caring for their land and loving them.
Dr. Seuss intentionally left the face of the Once-Ler unseen because he believed that the Once-Ler should represent big business industrialists and not be a single individual. But, I believe that the Once-Ler could have been left faceless because we each can see a sinful part of us demonstrated in the Once-Ler’s actions. When we think selfishly and believe that throwing that gum wrapper out the window is no big deal, think about God’s creation you just dirtied, or the person who picks it up four months from now. These actions may come from our own egocentric attitude. It isn’t just an issue of global warming, fossil fuels, or recycling; for the Christian, environmentalism is an issue of personal sanctification.
How are your everyday actions in regards to nature, to creation, indicative of the state of your own heart?