Of Humility and Greed - Last Word From Tom Duffey
This world of ours doesn’t belong to us, it’s on loan from our kids and their kids and all the future generations of the Earth. It belongs equally to all the other species who have, for millions of years, evolved and developed their niche here.
Sunday morning recycles again. A distant church bell echoes over the valley. By ones, twos and families, the “faithful” make their way to the gathering place of their choice. I am not among them at this point in my life, and I don’t believe I am alone in my solitary resolve. About six years ago I realized that, to continue with organized religion, in the face of what I perceived to be greed satisfaction at any cost, was just too much of a contradiction for me to swallow anymore. Perhaps it was the new wave of religious right-wing zealots giving full sanction to the plundering of the Earth. Perhaps it was the disdainful inflection placed upon the phrase “tree hugger” from various pulpits. (I am a life-long nurseryman. I have hugged many trees and I am certainly very proud of it.) Whatever it was, the fact is that a highly visible, media-savvy set of bible quoters, whose arrogant interpretation of Biblical scripture makes me very nervous, have draped themselves in the American flag and have taken charge. Whenever I listen to their message on TV or radio, I can’t help but to visualize them with a chain saw in one hand, a pesticide sprayer in the other, and surrounded with assorted traps, guns, poisons and mass netting devices. They have aligned themselves with the “smart money,” they deliver righteously confident advice to millions—yet the cumulative effect of their actions on our home, our Earth, amounts to rape, ravage and pillage. The irony is that these profiteers are a minority, a very small minority I believe.
So where are all the “stand up and be counted” folks from the side of reason, responsibility, caring and love? Where are all the faithful who simply and gratefully wish to do God’s work? Perhaps they’re sitting this one out, frozen in their seats with fear—fear of job loss, fear of being labeled, fear of not getting their fair share. Whatever the excuse, I think it’s too high a price to pay. This world of ours doesn’t belong to us, it’s on loan from our kids and their kids and all the future generations of the Earth. It belongs equally to all the other species who have, for millions of years, evolved and developed their niche here. If we are to be stewards of this realm, it is our duty to be good stewards. Procrastinating while we get the rest of our life together has tragic consequences. The time has come to stand up. Shake off the fear that, while generated from within, is used by others to fragment and control.
I am convinced that I am not alone in my beliefs, even though the tragic facts of environmental news all around us has a way of isolating and disabling a person.
As a Christian, I was taught to read Biblical scriptures as a tool to understand the events and circumstances of my own life and times. One verse, from Revelations 11:18, has especially stood out to me. “The nations were angry and your wrath has come. The time has come for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the Earth.” What about all those millennium predictions in the light of this ancient prophecy?
I was raised a Presbyterian. I’ve attended and been accepted in the Catholic church. I’ve been moved by the preaching of several fundamentalist pastors. I’ve attended “Promise Keepers” and will always cherish the positive forces calling for integrity, honesty and responsibility that I felt there. Obviously these represent many agendas, many dogmas, but through all of them, in my heart, I hear a voice calling for love and caring in my stewardship responsibilities towards this creation that has been loaned to me. I must always be vigilant that personal humility be uppermost in my perception of my place in creation, and greed must be watched and respected for the sinister force that it is. However we look at the presence or absence of a God in the universe, can’t we at least agree to cherish and wisely use this wonderful planet with all its participants great and small? Let’s stand together.
Tom Duffey managed Naturally Wild, a store that emphasizes respect for, education about, and celebration of the natural world. Tom was a vigilant steward of this realm. He died suddenly in early May of this year.