God said, “Let the waters swarm with living things, and let birds fly above the earth up in the dome of the sky.” God created the great sea animals and all the tiny living things that swarm in the waters, each according to its kind, and all the winged birds, each according to its kind. God saw how good it was. Then God blessed them: “Be fertile and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
There was evening and there was morning: the fifth day.
God said, “Let the earth produce every kind of living thing: livestock, crawling things, and wildlife.” And that’s what happened. God made every kind of wildlife, every kind of livestock, and every kind of creature that crawls on the ground. God saw how good it was. Genesis 1: 20-26
My boys and I went to the Kansas City Zoo yesterday. The zoo is one of our favorite places to visit. Not only do you get a great workout from walking the the rolling hills, you get to see some amazing animals up close and personal! Some of our favorite animals are Nikita, the polar bear, the kangaroos who actually roam free along the tree-lined paths, the lazy lions who lay and roar occasionally to the watching crowds, and the mighty gorillas who saunter magnificently through their and hilly habitat. Although we have been to the zoo many times, I am always awe-struck at the beauty and absolute limitlessness of God’s creative power. These animals are a true work of wonder.
And yet, I am always a little sad on our zoo visit days as I read over and over again how close to extinction these beautiful works of God are coming. Animals that used to roam the wild in abundance are now critically endangered. If the current rate of human consumption, industry and waste is not checked, then animals like tigers, elephants and gorillas will be a thing of the past. And this, I believe, is a collective sin of humanity. We Jesus People have failed in protecting and preserving the world that God so lovingly and painstakingly created. We have allowed corporate greed and materialism to run unchecked, the result of which is that (as always seems to be the case) the least of these are paying the price. So, what can the average person do to make a difference?
Here are some little steps each of us can take to reverse the cycle of natural destruction that is currently taking place throughout the world. Information comes not only from the KC Zoo, whose mission it is to promote conservation and instill in people instill a life-long respect of nature, but also the World Wildlife Fund which works to build a world in which humans live in harmony with nature. These little steps, if taken by many people, could have a maximum impact on saving many of the world’s animals.
1. Recycle as much as possible. Recycling not only helps to eliminate waste, but goods made from recycled materials helps to prevent further destruction of natural habitats.
2. Use less paper. The paper industry has led to massive amounts of deforestation throughout the world. This deforestation robs many animals of their habitat, thereby driving them to the point of extinction.
3. Avoid buying items made with palm oil. The production of palm oil is the biggest contributing factor to the disappearance of many of the world’s ape populations. Palm oil is used in a variety of items from shampoo and lip balm to margarine and ice cream. Look for products that use sustainable palm oil. They contain an RSPO trademark.
4. Buy woods approved by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Consider asking your local retailers to sell wood and furniture approved by the FSC.
I know that these steps aren’t always feasible or practical. Not all of us have the budget or live in a location to buy specialty items. But I think, at some level, all of us are able to take little steps toward change that will, over time, make a big impact on the future of our world.
Blessings and Peace,
P.S. There are SO MANY problems facing our current generation beyond animal endangerment. Did you know that there are more people enslaved today than in the entire 300+ years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade? Our water supply is steadily decreasing. The climate is changing. Poverty is growing. Preventable diseases are spreading. In the span of a generation we have done tremendous damage to all of God’s creation–humanity included. Something as simple as buying a pair of shoes can become a moral and ethical dilemma. It’s overwhelming. But the fact that it all seems too widespread and overwhelming does not mean that, as Jesus People, we should stop trying to make a difference. For me, personally, education is an important first step. The more I know about a problem, the better equipped I am to take little steps forward toward a sustainable solution.