Friday, May 15, 2009

Psalm 24:1-A Reflection

This verse is as follows, "All the earth is the LORD's, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell within."

I'll admit, I don't read the Bible that often (typical Catholic ;-)) and when I do, it's definitely the New Testament. Yet, this verse stands out for me, as I intern at an anti-hunger organization (well, haven't really seen one that is pro-hunger....) and am learning more every day about stewardship and sustainability.

Nearly a billion people in the world go hungry. Approximately 3 million children under the age of five will die each year due to undernourishment and far more live with it every day. In the U.S. alone, 11.7 million children live in households where they have to skip meals. We have the second highest infant mortality rate in the developed world partially because so many people go hungry.

Why do so many go hungry, given the world's resources? Why do so many children in the U.S., the richest and most powerful in the world, go to bed without dinner?

It's because we live in a world based on ownership, rather than stewardship. Food and water, rather than basic rights and needs, have become commodities to be bought and sold. Everything is driven by the markets and prices. Food prices are rising, making it harder for families to afford basic grains. Farmers have the ability to produce surpluses, but the prices are so low, it's not even profitable. Water has become a source of conflict. Yet, in the U.S., we use water like it's going out of style. We process food to the point where it's no longer natural and make it cheap as possible, while healthy, natural food has become a privilege for those who can afford it. We suck our natural resources dry for want of money and consumption, without a care for our brothers and sisters who may not have as much.

Basing value on ownership, I believe, fosters a sense of entitlement, a sense of worthiness based on purchasing power. Focus is placed on the individual, rather than the collective. I deserve healthy food because I worked for it. I deserve water because I worked for it. Poor people are lazy. Who cares if our planet is destroyed, as long as I'm the one ruling it? After all, I am human, therefore, I should be king.

Stewardship, on the other hand, places focus on something greater than the self. Whether you call it "God", "the collective voice of humanity", it doesn't matter. The emphasis is on the fact that the resources aren't truly your own and that they should be used wisely. Whether or not we all believe in God, we can all believe that we are all sharing space, whether we like it or not. Whether or not we believe global warming is caused by man, we can all come to the conclusion that we need to use our resources in a way that does not damage our planet. Finally, whether or not we believe humanity is good or evil, I defy anyone to refuse a thirsty child a glass of water.

Our possessions and money don't come with us after death. Our looks fade and our bodies decay. Our houses are useless to us. Qualities and legacies are immortal. Everything else is finite. Let us be wise about what is finite and go after what is infinite.

It certainly adds a new perspective to my day.......

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I think you have touched on a lot of issues that tend to be ignored in mainstream society, especially those of enviornment vs individual. I feel that people tend to focus on the indivual and lose sight of the environment and how it shapes things. I also feel the people, myself included, sometimes lose sight of their own mortality. Great post.