by Josef Kuhn
As human-beings we interact on an ongoing basis with other beings. Some of these beings are living, some are not. Alive or not, all beings come from the creative flow of the universe, the Supreme Being, God, the Creator, or other cultural designation of highest spiritual recognition and respect. We human-beings are especially gifted, and challenged, to play a meaningful role in creation. Being involved in stewardship empowers us, individually and collectively, in assessing opportunities and problems and making choices for the protection and enhancement of life, especially human life.
Stewardship of the wonders of creation, also referred to as conservation and environmental protection, is an ethical choice for each of us. Maintaining our truly awesome life-support systems, our ecosystems, through stewardship is being involved in a responsible way. It requires respect, appreciation and working with others making choices and taking action that can contribute to the well-being of our children and grandchildren, and bring joy to our lives.
Being involved requires being in the present. Stories of the past and visions of the future exist in our individual and collective minds. This is an aspect of our unique human nature, but it is not being present, as Eckhart Tolle explains so well in his book A New Earth. This awareness, consciousness at a deeper level, is becoming much stronger around the world as more and more people recognize the rapidly developing life crises we all face, or ignore, each day.
Being is about the creative flow of energy. Quantum physics, one of our newer learning tools, is showing us that energy not only moves and changes things in the universe, it forms strings that develop into matter and ultimately into beings, including ecosystems and us human-beings. Ecologists are concerned about entropy, the loss of energy and biodiversity, when ecosystems break down. The time has come for people who are not ecologists to share this concern and become more involved in protecting ecosystems, in stewardship.
When the Sun radiates energy to the Earth, life is created in countless forms that share this energy. I think of this life as a collective being, as Mother Nature, the daughter of Mother Earth and the Sun. Human-beings need to recognize, respect and care for this life. We are part of it. We can practice stewardship and protect life, or we can do great harm. Human-beings had limited impact on ecosystems in the initial 200,000 or so years of our existence. However, in the last couple of hundred years we have ‘developed’ and now take an approach to life that is vague about homeland, consumes and pollutes at very high levels, and mostly ignores stewardship.
It is important for us to recognize the relationship between development and stewardship. Development is touted as a process to improve the well-being of people. Good development is possible, but only if people who really care about stewardship become involved in the regulatory framework that determines the use and the protection of our lands, waters and natural resources. Without stewardship this protection will not happen.
Legislation requiring bio-physical and socio-economic environmental impact assessment was supposed to insure this protection, but these laws are being diluted or ignored today. This happens by reporting only short-term benefits and costs of proposed development, and not relating these impacts to ecosystems. Information on long term impacts to life-support systems is missing. The biological and economic well-being of future generations is being ignored.
As our growing consumption contributes to climate change, including the warming and acidification of our oceans, we create tremendous energy disruptions, infrastructure and personal property damage. As we pollute our air and water and ignore the decline of fish and wildlife populations, we are causing ecosystems to lose the structure and beauty Nature provided. Sustainability of healthy, productive lives is compromised. This is not stewardship.
Each of us human-beings need to be aware of our stewardship responsibilities each day. Better interpretation of our laws and making necessary improvements is one aspect. This requires our being involved as citizens and communities in government decision-making processes and court rooms. In the private sector, how we use energy and spend and invest our money determines our positive and negative environmental impacts. What we teach our youth by example and in schools is also very important. Their future well-being depends on our stewardship today.