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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Texas Faith: Are humans to serve the Earth? Or is the Earth to serve humans?

This week's question comes from a suggestion by panelist Daniel Kanter and it follows up on remarks that Rick Santorum made recently in speeches and on TV about the environment. Here is an excerpt from Santorum's February 19 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation:

"Man is here ...to care for the Earth, to be a steward of the Earth. But we're not here to serve the Earth. The Earth is not the objective. Man is the objective. And-I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside down."
Previously, Santorum made similar comments in Colorado, where he reportedly said:

"We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth's benefit."

Santorum followed up his observations in Colorado with comments about climate change. But I'm not interested in a debate about the pros-and-cons of that subject for this week. Rather, I would like to hear your answer to this philosophical and theological question:

Is man here to serve the Earth? Or is the Earth here to serve man?
Read on to hear what our panelists think about this issue, which goes to the heart of the religion-and-politics nexus.

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

Our species is the first one among others to have mastered the furies of nature and survive against odds, unlike the dinosaurs and other species that did not.

The planet Earth has stability and balance built into it, and placed on a precise trajectory to revolve around the solar system. However, the earth can be thrown off its dynamic equilibrium with global warming, nuclear explosions and other man-made activities that are foreign to Earth's nature.

If the senator had attended science classes, he would have known how fertile lands have become deserts, or how irresponsible management of waste can cause our water to be destructive to health, and how the soil erosions (alluvial) can rob food productivity.

If we don't take care of mother Earth, she would deprive us of her fruits. It is a mutually respectful relationship with Earth, and not a Bam, slam, thank you maam kind of relationship.

I want to kill the stereotyping stamped on Republicans as men with a deficit in long-term thinking. The presidential candidates are a minority among us, just like in any group. They do not reflect the majority of moderate Republican men and women who understand science and nature and care for fellow beings. I am a moderate Republican and I am proud of it.

Indeed, we are all a part of one interconnected and interdependent system. Keeping its equilibrium is our responsibility for our own survival as a part of the whole.

Chief Seattle, a Native American, said it perfectly; "All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the webs, he does it to himself."

Carl Sagan adds, "We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives... every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam."

We are a merely a strand in the cosmic whole. Earth will not be there for man, if man becomes a user and abuser of mother Earth. Man was given the intelligence to manage the affairs of the planet to the mutual benefit of its entire inhabitant and the web it inhabits.

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Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker and a writer and his work is linked to thirty blogs and four websites indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net

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