It's hot out there. Unbearable, really. So much so that I willingly hauled up the window AC units from the basement, lodged them in my windows and have let them run for the past four days almost unrelentingly. Anyone who knows me and my hatred for those cursed window units, with their droning hum, will understand how hot it must be for me to resort to their regular usage.
There's a huge debate raging whether extreme weather and other natural disasters are linked to global warming. I don't want to add to that debate because we're in an age where people believe what they believe and that's the end of the story. My voice in the argument will change nothing. What I do hope to influence is the responsibility we share as Catholics and Christians to address our throwaway society, as Pope Francis has labeled us, and better embrace our role as stewards of the earth. God gave us dominion over the land, the sea and all His animals but I do not believe this constitutes a free pass to do whatever we want for our comfort and convenience, especially at the sake of others.
Jesus Christ is our exemplary leader when it comes to how we treat one another, how we love God, how we persevere and have faith in times of trouble or temptation. He lived modestly and while his life left a monumental imprint on both history and humanity, it could be argued that his physical footprint on this earth - what he took and what he used - was minimal. The same cannot be said for many of us.
We eat whatever we want, from plastic packaging that we toss into the trash, whenever we want it. We buy more clothing than we need simply because we can and then discard it when the fashion is no longer relevant; it's relatively inexpensive and we feel we deserve it. We drive almost everywhere in cars that are often much bigger than what we need for our everyday activities. We buy homes far more spacious than necessary, either to convey status or house a dearth of accumulated items. I am equally guilty of many transgressions on this list. I have been careless with the resources God has given and contributed to the jeopardization of future generations' safety and health. This is not a comfortable feeling when I stop and think about it.
Jesus lived modesty and we should, too. The impact we leave on this earth should be in the hearts and mind of others and not in the finite resources this planet has to offer. When we pray in The Lord's Prayer to "lead us not into temptation" we must ask for steerage away from the temptations of convenience and excess, because these almost alway come at an expense. We need very little. Shelter. Food and Water. Love. The rest is wants. And it is our uncontrolled wants that lead to a throwaway society, as wants are transient and change all the time.
Christians are called to be environmentalists, even if not so explicitly labeled. By living out Christ's teachings in an age of excess, individualism, convenience and expected gratification, we are asked to be different. We cannot pick and choose which teachings apply and which do not. We must live them all. We must live simply. Take no more than we need. Act with best intentions for all. And bypass all that is extraneous. Remember, Jesus was a great king, born in a lowly manger: humble and unassuming throughout his life. If we truly embraced this way of living, think of the good that could be accomplished. Think of how much less there would be to throwaway. We'd be so bound up in His love and kindness that we'd want for nothing physical and strive for no earthly status.