Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Can I Do?

Disasters, both natural and human, have plagued my area for the last month.  Cities, homes and hearts have been ripped apart in many places by different things.  This recent string of events began on April 17th with the fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small town of West, TX, which is about an hour and a half south of Dallas.  Not quite a month later, powerful tornadoes ripped through Cleburne and Granbury, also small towns an hour or so away from DFW.  And then this week, only days after the Texas tornadoes, a few hours north of us, a life-taking tornado in Shawnee, OK was followed the next day by the massive EF-5 tornado that obliterated a substantial part of the community of Moore, Oklahoma.

While those whose lives are directly affected by these tragedies are busy trying to recover, rebuild and establish a new normal for themselves, their families and their communities, there are others, primarily those who exist outside of the vivid immediacy of these circumstances, who are trying to lay blame on someone or something for why these things happened.  All to often that blame is placed in the hands of a vengeful God.  That kind of rhetoric makes me angry right down to my innermost being.

We have all heard the proclamations by some that hurricane Katrina was sent by God to destroy the burgeoning gambling industry along the Gulf Coast and to prevent a very large GLBT gathering and celebration from taking place in New Orleans the following weekend.  Mind you this particular event that God was supposedly trying to stop had been going on for 33 years previous to 2006 when Katrina struck.  If God truly wanted to put an end to this gathering, wouldn't he/she have done so sooner?  "Southern Decadence" still convenes annually in New Orleans.  Is God so weak that he or she could not prevail and prevail against this perceived evil?  Is man truly stronger than God?

Oh, and did you know that hurricane Sandy was divine justice for the state of New York's 2011 legislation legalizing same-sex marriage?  If this is true, God needs to be put on some kind of performance improvement plan; his work is kind of sloppy.  If God was intending to punish New York, the actions taken sure impacted a lot of other states along the east coast.  

And, I hope none of you has been praying in the last week.  God has been rather myopic in his/her consideration of incoming prayers.   Attention has been turned on figuring out how to punish Oklahoma Thunder basketball player Kevin Durant for supporting Jason Collins with regard to his coming out and as gay.   I can see that.  Doesn't it seem reasonable that the God of love would punish one or two people by destroying homes and causing absolute mayhem in the lives of thousands of people and would kill innocent children?  Seems like a perfectly reasonable figure in whom to place our faith - a vengeful, retaliatory, self-serving, weak, sloppy God - right?
Lets get real.  God, the one who calls each one of by name us a child of his/her own, does not work like that.  If God does behave in such a way, CPS has a massive job to do.  I believe my God to be a God of creation, not destruction.

So, why then do these terrible things happen?  The answer does not lie in placing blame, but in taking responsibility.  (Please note, we are not responsible for, nor can we be blamed for, our sexuality; God is responsible for that.). Bad things do happen on earth because human beings make poor choices.  We, humankind, are responsible for most things that go wrong in our lives; not God.

The explosion in West hopefully was caused by some kind of accident.  The weather disasters are the result of our irresponsibility toward the care of our shared home, Mother Earth.  As the measurable effects of global warming have become more visible, so have the frequency and the intensity of our weather phenomena.  This is not coincidental.  We all share in this responsibility- not just the gamblers, the drinkers, the homosexuals, and the friends of homosexuals - every single one of us who occupies space on the earth must accept that we are in part responsible for what happened in Cleburne, in Granbury, in Shawnee, in Moore.

What can we do to turn things around, to have a positive impact on our world?  Here are a few simple actions that each of us can easily implement into our daily lives that will help stop global warming.

1, Replace all of your lightbulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
2. Only run your dishwasher when it is full.
3. Use recycled paper products.
4. Adjust your thermostat by 2 degrees - 2 degrees warmer during the summer and cooler during the winter.
5. Take shorter showers.
6. Carpool and use public transit.
7. Recycle.
8. Plant a tree.
9. Turn electronics off when they are not in use.
10. Avoid plastics.

These simple suggestions will help diminish the potential for weather disasters that result from the effects of global warming.  What can we do about incidents like the horror of the Boston marathon bombing or the explosion in West?  I know that we can not stop these kinds of things altogether, but perhaps, as with our steps toward slowing the progress of global warming, we can nudge such occurrences in the direction of being less frequent and less violent by faithfully following our loving God who bids us to love our God with all our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves.