Not long ago, I shared with some friends about my plans to start a new blog on sustainability and faith. The new blog will focus on how faith in Jesus can inform the way we live and the small choices we make each day. There will be a heavy emphasis on experimentation and trying things. We’re looking to launch the blog in January 2014.
Interested in learning about the project, one of the guys asked me, “What’s your background?”
It was sensible question. He naturally assumed that I might have a background in environmental science, or a job working in sustainability.
I replied, “I’m an amateur who wants to speak to amateurs.”
Too often, there’s a perception that caring about subjects like sustainability, climate change or the environment require expertise or a bunch of degrees behind your name. I believe this is also the reason why many people get scared off of sustainability and environmentalism. They’re intimidated and feel like these topics are inaccessible and hard to understand.
If you think you’re in that boat, I hear you and speak your language. Part of my hope is that the new blog will make sustainability more accessible to non science types like me.
I have to be totally honest. I stopped caring about science after completing my biology requirement in community college twenty years ago. I happened to ace that class largely by completing every possible extra credit assignment in the syllabus.
So how does a guy like me start caring about sustainability?
It’s mostly because I care about the world and what is happening in places both near and far. I want my daughters to be able to grow up and drink clean water and breathe clean air. I’m concerned about the increasing temperatures on our planet, the melting polar ice caps, pollution, deforestation, overfishing in our oceans and the extinction of animal species. As a person of faith, I believe God made us stewards of the earth. He gave us responsibility over this planet, and carrying out that responsibility doesn’t mean we party like its 1999.
Moreover, as a person of faith, when I see something like world hunger, I know the problem is more than just about getting adequate supplies to people in the Sub-Sahara; this is also an environmental problem and a climate change problem. Caring about hunger in this world means caring about the environment.
Then I might naturally wonder whether these problems are just too big for someone like me. I mean, who am I fooling? Will it really matter to someone in South Asia if I start conserving energy and drive less?
I suppose the cynic in me might say it doesn’t matter (and God knows I’m a pretty cynical guy), but not this time.
Yeah, one guy doing his best to live more sustainably might not do much, but millions of us making sustainable choices can change the world.
In the end, I believe it will be the actions of millions of amateurs like me, who will turn the tide against climate change. While scientists can be helpful in this cause, they will not provide the ultimate solution. This solution will be found in the actions of millions of ordinary, average people. Most of these people will not be scientifically inclined or be qualified to give a talk on the perils of climate change.
As amateurs, I think it’s also inevitable that we might make mistakes and occasionally get it wrong. I might start vermicomposting, only to end up killing all my worms. Yeah, it could very well happen. Nevertheless, I also believe there’s something to be gained when we risk failure and try things.
As a person of faith and a follower of Jesus, I also look to the gospels for guidance.
During his life, Jesus did a lot of remarkable things, but just as remarkable as any of the miracles were the people whom he chose as his disciples. Jesus’ inner circle was largely comprised of ordinary men. These were fishermen, tax collectors, a zealot and several other unremarkable men. In other words, Jesus didn’t pick the professionally religious people as his followers, instead Jesus picked amateurs who were willing to risk everything.
There is something to be said for amateurs.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13