Our Planet, Our Selves
Global Witness, an international NGO (non-governmental organization) reports that in 2016 there were 200 environmental defenders, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders murdered as they defended natural resources, wildlife, or community land. Thus nearly four a week.
Environmentalists are threatened by the interests representing mining and oil, illegal logging, agribusiness and dam building. Conflicts persist over water and land, pollution and evictions.
Globalization of incentives for economic interests trumping ecological interests is often cited as the cause for this culture of impunity where environmental defenders can be eliminated without repercussions. Assaults are attributed to corporations' private security guards, state forces and contract killers.
How might you and I, as a part of the ecumenical movement respond? Investment portfolio divestment from offending companies is a start. Or, as investors, we could vote to have the company report on how climate change, for example, will affect its "bottom line". Recently ExxonMobil shareholders voted overwhelmingly to do this.
If our tradition seems to urge support of extremist theologies and politics that jettison human rights, disrespect the rule of law, or fail to take a stand against environmental destruction, perhaps you and I have cause to re-think, seeking values that are more life-affirming.
If political will is lacking, and corporations elude accountability, and if the hope of the environmental movement is challenged, and when science alone cannot solve environmental problems, we need to rely on the influence of spiritual leaders in the decision-making process by invoking their moral authority to frame the struggle for ecological integrity as a humanitarian one.
Each of us reading this column can make some contribution of helping.
Note:This column began in October 1997 and thus now completes 20 years. It is issued mid-monthly, Sept.--May, by the six-decades-old ecumenical United Churches of Lycoming County, based in Williamsport PA. To see this column in that context, go to www.uclc.org and then search the newsletter for the "Creation Corner Column."