GOING GREEN: It’s Like Joining a Religious Sect

Posted on July 10, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

I read once that an avid environmentalist behaves very much as someone who is extremely religious. Both are dedicated to certain tenets. Those of us who are this way, see Planet Earth with as much awe, devotion, love, and worry as one would have about any of the concepts of God found among people’s religions. Yes, among those of us who crank and care may be some that are like the early Christians who hid in caves to worship. You dear reader, may be one of these.

Others of us are annoying by trying to convert. You can usually discern a fellow Gaia devotee when they are hot on recycling, don’t order dead animals to eat in a restaurant, stop the waiter from filling a water glass if they know they won’t need anymore, and generally stick to commandments like these:

    1. Understand that nothing ever leaves Earth. That means when walking in the morning, it is really hard not to pick up a dirty piece of plastic bag in the gutter and hope to find a bin to leave it in. It’s like saying a prayer—something I did as a child. Picking up straws and bottle caps on the beach instead of shells, I offer another prayer, full of hope and with little certainty. Under this commandment: Compost. If you do laundry using any bleach or Tide soap, feel guilty. Buying expensive biodegradable soap is like making a contribution to a church.

    2. Don’t waste. Shop from your closet, a thrift shop, or some store that claims to have organic fabrics. If you are lucky enough to have a sunny backyard, hang laundry to dry. Non-believers really think you are crazy about this one. Telling them how good the sun-dried sheets smell is useless.

    3. Eat plants. Some friends never really want to go out to dinner with you, and do a lot of fussing about what you will be able to eat, especially if you have been rude enough to say the “dead animal” thing.

    4. Homeowners and businesses. Plant trees and drought-resistant plants. Some Planet Earth people worship privately and believe that rocks are Earth’s oldest children and trees are her strongest angels. Non-believers will not give up the beauty of green carpets of lawns draining insecticides into the water table. No, this will not change until there are laws that new homes and buildings are required to replace them with attractive, drought-resistant, native landscaping. We members use our money for tree trimming, not watering lawns. We pray for new kinds of landscaping companies and nurseries. We love the Department of Water and Power for supporting us.

    5. We have hard rules about animals. Sometimes we must hide our beliefs that coyotes and mountain lions have first rights on property, and that domestic animals are an indulgence by comparison. No one can pet a bobcat, and mountain bikers may be in trouble if they stop to fix a blown tire when a nearby cougar is roaming for a deer. But like the hated house spider, wild animals are Gaia’s true children. Cats, bless them, need to stay in houses, not hunt for songbirds, or get a hungry coyote in trouble with the neighborhood by getting eaten.

Maybe people are not Planet Earth’s favorite living thing. Maybe converting the whole world to care about biodiversity—seeing all living creatures as having equal rights—could bring about a different a kind of Armageddon: The end of Earth as it is now, replaced with an unpoisoned Earth, a thriving ocean life, and supportable populations.

I believe my sect should apply for recognition as a religion and get the tax breaks that other religions get. Of course, if we could get this status, we would also draw the usual derision that religious groups often get. And could I be called a hypocrite because I’ve collected a lot of really great logs, and I still want to have a fire in the fireplace when it rains? Maybe the rain would wash the particulates into the Hyperion sewage plant? Okay. I won’t burn those logs. They can be ground up by the Department of Sanitation along with the yard clippings for biomass. Because I do want some converts.

–Bette Simons

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