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Seeing Problem Solving Through the Environment in A New Light

Even plain rocks can take on a rainbow hue with the addition of water, light and a different perspective. In Genesis 11:4-9, God chose to confuse the peoples lest they build an edifice in their own name that did not include God as the keystone. We should not be surprised that finding problems for the common good means we have to listen to the needs and heed the wisdom from multiple stakeholders with varying, sometimes conflicting needs.

Similarly, when we become too self-absorbed or self-righteous, we lose touch with the truth and begin to prioritise that which threatens our ego more than that which threatens the greater good. As the editor of the Phillipine's Bohol Chronicle points out, "many people ignore the fact to violate the sanctity of the environment is to court human disaster." They rightly comment that flash floods that kill 5,000 people due to reckless forest denudation and waste disposal is as, if not more, horrific as 3 000 people killed in 9/11.

In both instances the needless deaths are the manifestation of accumulated decisions. One group ignores or denies the needs to protect the environment and its dependents (including humans) for the sake of profits and "success". Another group destroy others' endeavours ignoring and denyies the needs of those within and dependent upon the infrastructure - for the sake of validation and "success". Both types feel self-righteous in their rights to destroy and main, and dismiss concerns of abuse or desecration as being idolatrous or utopian.

Yet the irony is that it is the two extremes who are guilty of both idolatry and utopian visions. In one vision there is the delusion that if all bowed to their vision the world would be as God wants it; which denies that God is a God of diversity, change and growth. The other vision suffers from the delusion that the mess of the consequences of their actions will never come back to haunt them.   Yet God promises us a time when "The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer" (see Isaiah 26:21).

If we come to a time when it is no longer possible to hide systemic abuse and negligence; then any attempt to doctor the Truth to preserve our idolatrous edifice merely leads to discreditation e.g. Isaiah 30:1-5. At such times, the only way forward is to embrace repentance and seek to bring back respect and reverence for all God's Creation.

In terms of the environment, which has been a vastly neglected field, we should not be surprised to find a rainbow of perspectives of what the problems are and what needs to be done to fix them. For example Cielto Habito suggests a six dimensional approach to sustainable development that covers the economic, social, environmental, political, cultural and spiritual aspects, which would help souls to look beyond narcisstic addictive businesses practices. And Wallace Nichols' contemplations on the impact of organised crime in addictive drugs such as cocaine and heroin on the environment, suppliers and users demonstrates that the parallel problems of managing the environment, businesses and social systems as there are similar underpinning dynamics.

Even though the problems seem overwhelming there continues to be excellent developments. Like when we had to help with the 2004 SE Asian tsunami, we need to be acknowledging and complementing each others' activities, rather than squabbling for accolades at the expense of neglecting certain areas. It is encouraging and inspirational to look at what others are already doing, for example the reports in the recent Christian Post or WCCO on church and interfaith activities to help with the environment and model solutions to global warming. These anecdotal models are part of a suite of inspirational strategies that can also include conferences that can showcase opportunities and techniques, such as the proposed Sustain 2007 Exhibition scheduled at the Sandton Convention Centre August next year.

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