Sunday, January 02, 2011

Eco-friendly? Well I definitely try.

I saw this pic at failblog and found it profound actually. In some ways all our attempts to be eco-friendly will fail, and as someone who tries really hard it is so depressing when you find out something you thought was a good response still has troublesome implications. The problem, as I see it, is that we keep looking at solutions at a micro or individualistic (atomistic) level - but the problems are really all at a macro level. So the only really adequate solution is a macro solution - that is to change the way we think and behave on a grand scale. While transforming individuals' patterns of behaving is helpful - it will not stem the time of the ecological destruction that marks our era. The ironic thing is that without the individual change - macro change won't happen. So we are left with the honest frustration of this table.

My friend Kadry sent me his new years wishes for an "environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress year". I think he nails something really important that gets at the notion of macro. The response is not a simple one. It can't just be summed up in "do this" or "don't do that". It has to be a radical change in how we think, and it is more complex than any of us want to hear. But it will never happen as long as we treat that complexity with a stress response. And that is what I tend to do. I tend to let it overwhelm me. I know for some it leads to apathy, but not me - it is worse, it leads to a sort of anxiety that cripples my response. Simply because I do care and have become convinced that God cares too (and that God cares if we care, which is part of what I think needs desperately to happen in many of our hearts). So how do we craft a good news in the face of our day?

This is where I think the force of hope has to come into play. Without hope we cannot respond. I know I don't have the energy in me. I find it hard to face the fact that I might be complicit in yet another evil even when I am doing what I think is the good. Like I said, I don't have the energy in me. But I am convinced that God does. Here is where hope, for me, has to be coupled to something bigger than ourselves. Hope has to be rooted in One that is at work throughout the world working redemptively and gracefully towards the future that only God can imagine. And hope says that we get to participate in that. Hope says that all our mistakes will be subsumed into an overwhelming trajectory towards the God who not only holds together all things, but longs for the best in all things - and for those of us who place the cross at the center of this - is willing to pay whatever cost is necessary to see that joy unfold one day. Hope isn't about waiting, but it is about participating in a meaningful way. Hope is never fatalistic, it is always enthusiastic - filled with God.

So my wish for us all, this new year, is the same as my friend Kadry's. May we all have an "environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress year", that is a year in which hope overcomes all the stresses we experience when we work for the good in a world that is so in need of good news.

1 comment:

byron smith said...

Great picture - quite profound!

And your reflection here is not unconnected to my own work. You're absolutely right about the paralysing or distracting effects of reacting out of stress. And I'd second your instinct to reach for the category of hope, but would qualify it by noting that the only Christian hope is cruciform. We don't hope that the world will get gradually better through our efforts at faithfulness, but believe that God can raise even the dead and so work on even where it may well kill us.

And this liberates hope to also look a lot like grief at times, as well as long-suffering love.