Twice recently I found myself wondering if doing good for humanity is a one-way game.
The first time, I was discussing with a church colleague my latest “do-gooder” passion, as my family calls it: soils for the world–food security– in the form of compost,. The well-meaning friend observed, “I’m glad you’re saving the world; as to me, I’m bringing people to the Lord.” I don’t believe he was aiming for one-upsmanship maliciously, but the implication was that his was the calling of choice.
The second time, just a day later, I was listening to a budget bureaucrat from the Maryland General Assembly discussing the Governors proposed budget. He highlighted the fsocial service program cuts and compared them to reductions in funding for programs for clean water and environmental projects. “I prefer to keep the money in the programs for people,” he said.
Coming only 24 hours apart, naturally I had to stop a moment and consider that more than 50% of my work during my lifetime has been on environmental projects. Yet I never considered these less important than the people projects on which I had participated (poverty, immigration, literacy). Could I have had my focus in the wrong place?
To shine light on these deep-hearted questions, I turned to my what I learned in catechism class all those years, which sent me to Genesis, and the creation of the world.
In Genesis 1: 1-23, the world, in all its creatures and features, is a holistic one. God created a special interdependence and in the words of the Book, formed humans to “dominate” this ecology. While some definitions of the medieval French word might lead you to think it means to “outlast”, the simple fact of the matter is, by ignoring the stability of the other features of our world (clean water, climate change) it dooms not only the rest of creation, but ultimately, mankind itself.
I thank my human colleagues who focus on people; I am returning to my work on the ecology of the God’s system as one of the dominant creatures he made to maintain the delicate balance