Itching For A Fight (a 7QT post)

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It began Tuesday morning, when I pulled into a spot at the public library twenty minutes before it opened. I let Michael get in the driver’s seat and play with all those fun controls while we waited. We were not the only people killing time between school dropoff and library opening time. There were half a dozen other cars in the lot. In the white sedan beside us, a blond college-age girl sat navigating her a smart phone…with the car running. For over fifteen minutes.

Now, it was not a hot day. Nor was it a cold day. My blood pressure rose every minute she sat there spewing pollutants into the air unnecessarily. I wanted to get out and knock on her window and suggest that she shut her car off. When we all got out to walk into the library  at the same time, I sent a little prayer winging skyward: Do I speak, or do I keep my big mouth shut?

The compulsion to speak was nearly beyond control. But I could not for the life of me come up with any way to address it that sounded anything other than  nose-in-your-business.

And so I didn’t say a word.

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This is not an easy dilemma to solve. On the one hand, it seems clear that life in this world will be much better if we stay the heck out of each other’s business. I may not agree with your choices, but it’s wrong to stick my nose in and give you the third degree about it. Our personal choices are our own.

A friend articulated it this way later that afternoon: “I kind of think whether people run their car for half an hour is their prerogative.”

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Not so fast.

Photo by Rachel Knickmeyer, via Flickr

Because it’s not your prerogative to do things that screw up the world for everyone else. We all have to live on the same planet, and that means we all have to think about how our actions impact others. That’s the reason we have rules at all. Nicholas has been asking questions lately like, “Why does green always mean go?”

“Because that’s the rule they made, honey.”

“But why?”

There is no why, it’s just a rule someone came up with so we could all coexist peacefully.

This issue–unnecessary consumption–is a global issue. It impacts all of us.

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Christian has tried for years to convince me that arguing with people is useless, that no one changes their mind because you engage them in flame wars or even spirited debate. All that happens is everybody leaves with bad feelings. This philosophy wars with my nature–I come from an extensive, widespread net of extremely opinionated people  dating back at least two generations, and probably further, only I was too young to know them. But in the past decade and a half I’ve come to recognize the truth of what my husband says. More often than not, I take deep breaths and abstain from pointless argument.

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But then again, evangelization can’t be limited to people who already agree with us. And if I feel convicted on an  issue because of my faith–in this case, that we have a responsibility to take care of the earth we’ve been given, and that there are dire consequences if we thumb our nose at that responsibility–then I’m not really living out my call to discipleship at all, am I?

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Dawn on Cloud Nine, by Krasnickaja Katya, via Wiki Commons

So…I’m opening a can of worms I’ve been avoiding all week. I’m just going to say it.

I believe in global warming.

I know that a good number of my readers probably don’t, but there it is. I don’t see how you can look at the explosion of devastating storms and years-long drought in recent history and not think, “Gee, isn’t it just possible that something we’re doing is having an impact on this?” These weather events are not judgment from God, and they are not just oh-well-it’s-a-fallen-world-after-all. If they’re getting more severe and more common, we need to take a hard look in the mirror and think about this quote from Fitzgerald:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy–they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back to their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…

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I don’t see how we can close our eyes and pretend this isn’t happening, and say “it’s nobody’s business but my own if I burn fuel for fifteen minutes, or half an hour, in a parking lot.” I don’t see how we can say “it’s nobody’s business but my own if I don’t recycle.” Actions have consequences. How can we call ourselves Christians if we put “it’s-my-own-business” ahead of “the good of the whole world and everyone in it”?

End rant.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about winners, 100th birthdays, blue blocking glasses, and my desperate need for Youtube recommendations

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12 thoughts on “Itching For A Fight (a 7QT post)

  1. I don’t believe in ‘global warming’. I don’t think there is any possible way to chart how climates have changed since the beginning of time. That being said, I do believe in taking care of our world. I get really bummed out when people who ‘don’t believe in global warming’ use that as some kind of excuse to not take care of our world. We were given this beautiful world by a God who loves us, with the express instructions to take care of it. For that reason, like you said, it is an evangelization call to remind our brothers and sisters. To me, we are having the wrong debate. Whether or not the world is getting hotter, or weather is changing due to pollution doesn’t matter (imo) as much as us being convicted that we shouldn’t pollute because of our call to preserve God’s kingdom here on earth.

  2. I don’t have a whole lot of knowledge in my arsenal for or against “man made” climate change, but, DUDE, prudential use of resources is a virtue. Admittedly this comes from someone living in FL who must arrive to carline early and leave the car running b/c the babies in back will cook if I don’t. When I can, I do get them out for a walk, but most of the time they are sleeping.
    I’m also super easily angered by doofus behavior, so I try to imagine a scenario of what would make it okay. In this case I would fantasize that she was talking a friend out of a bad decision. My blood pressure is better for it!

  3. Cecelia

    Lots of good stuff here but I will focus on what is perhaps a side point of the post because it is something I struggle with too. I think conversations on issues can happen and can change people’s minds but only when the circumstances are right and it is handled carefully.

    Accosting a random stranger in the parking lot probably wouldn’t be successful but there might be an opening over coffee and donuts in the church under croft where a small step can be taken. Usually it requires equivocating a bit more than what might accurately reflect one’s opinion, and giving more credence to the other side than you really feel. But if it helps achieve incremental change its worth it.

    Christian’s view misses the possibility that while one conversation won’t change someone’s mind, over time with more such interactions someone might change their mind. Because the fact of the matter is people do change their minds on issues over time – so something convinces them.

    As I have seen you do this many times, more than me, in some ways it seems silly for me to post this, but I thought I would share with the blogosphere.

    • That is true–and it is also why I address this topic on the blog, since that’s kind of my “church undercroft”. 🙂 But I’m afraid that it doesn’t seem like enough to me. I just went to a graduation this morning in which the inventor of Square told the grads to find a problem that motivates them to work without praise or reward. This and NFP are my issues.

  4. Peg

    Kathleen,
    I would have said something very nicely to the woman…like ” I hope you don’t mind me saying this but would you consider turning off your car engine and just rolling the windows down while you wait here? It’s not too hot today and it’s better for the environment when we do that. It’s no big deal if you don’tj want to and I hope you don’t feel that I should just mind my own business, but sometimes people remind me of things that I was just clueless about and I don’t mind them telling me.”
    Not sure if that would be appropriate, but I would risk it. I think. It depends.

    I remember years ago when I was putting Cool Whip in my grocery cart and a woman came up to me and cautioned me about it being very harmful because it was made with coconut oil (now a super food – go figure!) I thought it was sweet of her to tell me that because my mother had been telling me the same thing and I actually admired her for telling me….I “got it” that she just couldn’t help herself.

    When you have a “cause”, sometimes you feel that you have a duty to speak up in an FYI kind of way…hopefully to enlighten someone but not to alienate. However you do,have to live in your community too!

  5. saroy

    So I’m late to this post, but just a couple thoughts. First of all, I have never understood how global warming and religion are linked. And more importantly, global warming — or climate change, as I prefer to call it — is real. One of my favorite quotes is from Neil deGrasse Tyson and it goes: ““The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

    Science tells us that our climate is changing. We can argue about the reasons WHY it’s changing, but it is changing. This is not opinion. It is fact.

    And you know what? Even if you don’t believe in fact, doesn’t it just make logical sense that we should take care of the awesome things that we have like our planet?

  6. Janette

    We are stewards of the Earth.
    Saying that- I believe that the Earth has been through many warmings and coolings. We have had land bridges, Vikings sailing the Arctic seas, and way more tornados in Kansas then Maryland.

    I don’t really believe that fossil fuels are greatly changing things, just God’s shift. We do know that fossil fuels do cause lung problems and are finite, so they should be used carefully. Just like coal in the 1890’s in Europe (or China now), if we are not careful, we end up abusing our stewardship and ruining our own health. God permits us to be “stupid”.

    I also believe that teachers needed something to give to students to be morally responsible for when prayer (or any talk of God) was removed from schools in the 1970’s. What did we have- but the common element of the earth and animals? Something to think about 🙂
    And I love a good debate 🙂

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