And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Constant movement is the rhythm of the large city that never sleeps. The energy generated through noise and endlessly changing motion is thrilling to many who experience it as raw creativity, potential adventure, and unfettered fun.
To some, such movement implies that all is well, that our world is healthy and growing. Certainly the wheels of life and commerce are moving as people are working, caring for their families, and educating young people.
Rapid means of transportation play a central role in accessibility to both work and entertainment. Mobility has made the world smaller and broadened opportunities for more comfortable lives for many, even for those who struggle. Cars in particular are a wonderful tool that many of us cannot imagine our world without.
But like all blessings, the impact of a car-centered world on the lives of our yet-to-be-born great grandchildren must be carefully assessed.
Sometimes our society behaves like an adolescent who has not yet worked full-time nor paid all the bills associated with being self-sufficient. Our society might hear scientific reports about our Earth's health, but not believe that it has a role in changing it. While our culture may behave this way, the Gospel invites us to choose differently.
Imagine the Earth as a single house, with multiple floors and many rooms. Everything that happens takes place within that Earth-house-all food grown, all living and dying, all resources mined and materials created. As with our own homes, if the air conditioner's engine burns out, there will be no cool air inside. The downstairs bathroom is affected by the plumbing problems in the upstairs bathroom. Residents sharing the kitchen need to navigate each other's needs. This Earth-house is a wonderful place given to us by our Creator. Living well within it means recognizing our interconnectedness, our relationship with all things.
Automobile emission issues are part of our Earth-house. Many cities measure air quality daily. We've learned to cope with "smog alert" days and have become, perhaps, somewhat numbed. This past spring we learned about an extended hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic, five times the size of California. This degradation which exceeds for the first time the worrisome loss over Antarctica, may not have even registered in our minds (see http://ozonelayerdepletion.org/). Just as a leaking roof affects everything inside, greater amounts of radiation coming through a compromised atmosphere challenges every living creature on Earth.
When we take a holiday drive of 300 miles we know the cost of that tank of gas and feel it in our wallets. A new perspective is required to recognize that driving that distance also creates 6000 pounds of carbon dioxide that is measured in compromised air quality around us. With millions of cars on the road, we are all affected, with children and elderly people struggling most.
What is the meaning of a call to "walk humbly with our God?" We are blessed with a beautiful world full of a million signs of God's love and presence. Perhaps realizing that we must be more mindful of the ramifications of our choices for God's Creation is an invitation into more intentional living. Walking humbly with God can mean slowing down a little so that we will recognize God's movement around us. Walking humbly is an invitation to learn more about the gift of our atmosphere, of the trees that transform carbon dioxide into oxygen, of the lives of people we will never meet whose futures depend on our thoughtful choices in preserving our resources.
This fifth week of Lent let us examine the many means of transportation that are available to us, remembering also to give thanks for our own feet. Slow down. Car pool. Coordinate trips.
Take a bus or train. Choose wisely and walk humbly.
Watch these short reflections on the Earth as a village.
The Miniature Earth
If the World Were 100 People (updated)
Learn about this Saturday's Earth Hour through this mini-documentay.
Earth Hour March 31st, 2012, 8:30pm