Like most of us, I have been struggling with what actions are right for me going into 2017. Working for the “common good” is going to have a hard time against “I’ve got mine” in our unfettered, for-profit society. Where does caring for creation fit in this eco-political reality?
For me, caring for creation is literally and figuratively the grounding for a just world. Caring for creation is not an optional “environmental” issue. It is how we relate to each other, to other creatures and to the Creator. To care for creation is to be fully engaged with social justice and Christian theology.
Beginning in Genesis, our scriptures speak to caring for creation as inseparable from our relationship with the Creator and from social justice. The early writers of our scriptural tradition wanted to establish the importance of caring for creation by connecting the creation of human life with the most elemental aspect of creation, the soil. Other writers speak to God’s presence in all of creation. Prophets speak powerfully to the injustices resulting from control by a few to access to the land and to mistreatment of land.
Because we are removed from the source of our food we have lost the connection between justice and the soil, but for early writers it was basic. Access to good soil allows people to feed themselves. Privatizing access to soil, and destroying soil’s natural fertility, contributes to poverty, destruction of communities, mass starvation and violence. Creation care begins with “land justice”.
Several of us have been working on “Love your body/Love Creation”, a project about eating and shopping choices that respect the soil, speak to climate change, treatment of workers, and treatment of animals.
For me, buying as much locally grown or raised food as possible means food grown without reliance on soil – destroying chemicals. It also means food less dependent on the massive destructive nature of fossil fuel extraction.
Buying locally helps support local communities. When local is not possible, buying from companies that provide fair payment and good working conditions is an option.
Local personal actions fortify us to take actions in our larger community and nationally on issues of land use, food production, energy policy, and other matters of creation care. But first, as our scriptures tell us, caring for creation is social justice.