Earth Day 2022: Is it Still Meaningful?

The Boulder Family, Mission Trails, San Diego, CA.
Photo by Laurie Welch

When I looked at the calendar this week and saw that Earth Day was coming I rolled my eyes. “The environment” has become so political in the United States trying to save the planet feels more like an exercise in futility than in creating any kind of actionable measures. I am certain mine weren’t the only rolling eyes this year.

Still, I love Nature. I do what I can in my little corner of California with my recycling of plastics and aluminum cans and the lessening of their use in general. I buy in bulk when available, pick up other people’s trash on hiking trails and try to be conscious of the overuse of packaging calling it out in emails to offending companies. But like most people I am not consistent and I over consume and waste when it is not convenient. I don’t want to be a pessimist when it comes to the environment throwing up my hands with a tsk tsk “no one else is doing anything,” but it is painful to listen to politicians, especially the religious ones who should know better, ignore the sacredness of the land in favor of its destruction for “human progress.”

In the Hebrew Bible God is active in Creation. It is a conscious, well-thought out plan that creates this world which is both “good” and “very good.” When the first human is made God gives him the responsibility (Genesis 1:28) to rule over the beauty He has made. Many translations of this passage use the word “subdue” to indicate that Adam and successive generations can rule in whatever manner they want over the land. But the Hebrew word for subdue, kavash, is mistranslated in this context meaning to subdue an enemy as in a military situation. In the JPS (Jewish Publication Society) translation of the Hebrew Bible it uses the words “master it” (the earth) and “rule the fish of the sea…” I see the words masters and rulers as benign; the person doing the mastering or ruling is what makes their administration good or bad, life sustaining or destructive.

In fact, the world could never exist, would likely die, if we subdued Nature or had dominion over it in the modern way we use those words. We use them like we are superior over Nature, but we learn every time we kill off a species of animal that another species relies on it and now it is endangered or when we ruin air quality with pollution or a waterway with poisonous runoff endangering people that we can’t subdue the land, but must understand how it works and honor the process. Mastery implies this: we master something to understand how to work with it.

Pollution, defilement, destruction of habitats in all its forms would make life on Earth impossible. So, subduing it, subjugating it, enslaving it makes no sense and is definitely not Biblical. And it is not just a belief in the God of the Bible that tells of this remarkable Creation. Biology, science, the Big Bang acknowledge a well-planned, well-thought out planet. In fact, it is probably the one thing where the religious, the scientifically-minded and atheists can agree!

Which brings me back to my original thoughts on this Earth Day. If I don’t want to eye roll any longer and if I think “doing something” is still important, what do I do?

I have an idea. It came up in an article I read that referenced the way Nature returned to cities during the first year of the pandemic when most everyone across the planet was in lockdown. It’s a radical step, a very great lifestyle change but if sustainable it might be worth working toward. It would take the whole of human kind to make it successful and I am still thinking through participation: A Sabbath day for Creation. Or, a once a week day off from technology, electricity, fossil fuels and the like to give the planet a rest from human meddling.

I don’t know if I am optimistic enough to trust in a process that asks me to bow out of the busyness of life once a week for a full day. But I believe the environmental crisis is real and I have to do something more than recycle. A weekly sabbath/rest might be it. I am going to take it seriously and find out.

And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good.

8 thoughts on “Earth Day 2022: Is it Still Meaningful?

  1. Hi, Laurie,

    I think being mindful of our waste and care of the environment and how we live (with nature) is noble. And from a Christian perspective, there is a feeling of gratefulness for what God has bestowed upon us. It should make one want to do good for the environment, as much as one can.

    There is so much we can do, but I am afraid we are outnumbered and legislation is not the only answer. I myself am frustrated with the hypocrites (in government, corporations, global institutions, and entertainment) who preach to the masses how to live, even regulating our choices, and yet, show themselves to be liars, as they fly their private jets, take lavish vacations all over the world, own numerous homes, vehicles, boats, toys, and the like. They live extravagantly well and beyond comfortable, but I never witness one living by example. They only demand government legislate how people live, creating a high cost of living for others,” but which they are still able to achieve and do still live.

    When the Scripture commands us to subdue the earth in Genesis, God means for us to care for it, tend it, and replenish it as we would a garden. But we live with sin, so we are likely to also see a lot of waste, overconsumption, neglect, and destruction. Yet each individual is still responsible to care for what God has provided for him/her, and you can do your part using your conscience and judgment.

    So you could take your idea and make it a new habit for any day and every day of the week. Find ways to cut back and use less, create less waste, reuse, remake, recycle. Shop thrift stores and yard sales. Look for products that have no packaging or less packaging. Buy in bulk. Since you are in California, look for a Winco bc they sell in bulk and you can eliminate packaging for most food items. You can also learn to make foods from scratch. Shop farmer’s markets and support local small businesses (see Etsy, too.) Grow a garden, learn to sew. And any day is a good day to cut back on technology. There’s a lot you can do and it will be good for you, too.

    By the way, except for sewing, I decided a few years ago to make a lot of these decisions and I’m still learning and finding more ways to be less wasteful. It just makes sense.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your long response. I resonate with a lot of what you say. I am still finding my way, trying to be consistent, but looking for something more impactful. Also, I have never heard of Winco and while there isn’t one near me, there is near Long Beach, where I go a couple of times a month, so I will definitely check that out. Food packaging really gets my goat….

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      1. I’m so jealous! I loved winco bc I could do all my bulk shopping there. I have since moved to Florida and they don’t have a winco, and sprouts does not even compare. Another thing I was going to tell you about is composting, especially if you have a garden. If we all did that, we’d have way less food scraps in the landfill.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s an idea isn’t it, now can we do it – just one day doesn’t sound like much but it would actually take some commitment wouldn’t it, how easily do we all sink back into our habits? Your opening question is a good one, does it mean anything anymore? All the greenwashing by governments and large companies, but I suppose it’s a day that might make us stop and think and reevaluate what we are doing and ask what more we can do?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been reading that to truly make a difference halting the full scale destruction of the planet would take more than what regular folks can do. Which isn’t to say recycling and paying attention to our own particular abuse and waste is fruitless. That can have definite impacts on your community. It’s just that true and lasting fixes and change can only come with something big. That first year of the pandemic showed us a big thing. But you’re right that it would take a commitment. A commitment to consistency as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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