Saturday, 5 October 2013

Green Bags

(Created before March 7, 2012)

Chances are when you are making a purchase at a large (or small) supermarket, you’ll be questioned as to how many bags you would like.  The reason the clerk didn’t just go ahead and bag your groceries is because you would be getting charged for each bag you receive.  The reason you aren’t outraged at this form of corporate greed is because you know that using less plastic bags will help the environment - somehow.

Every child is taught what global warming is, every stranger on the street a victim to some sort of propaganda about fancy terms like “climate change,” “the ozone layer,” and “acid rain.”  Some people may not care, but most do, a few even going the lengths to vote for the Green Party or support Greenpeace.

My viewpoint on the environmental issues aren’t as “radical” as some of my other beliefs, nor are they strong beliefs, or even reflective of what I think Christians should believe.  Why am I writing this then?  It’s simple, the issue of the planet’s health is a big one, and I’m a sucker for writing about topics that matter.

A while ago while waiting to meet up with my brother on the streets of Edmonton, I was in a situation.  There was a large group of Greenpeace representatives in my path.  In order to avoid getting approached by them, I would have to blatantly change direction.  Such an obvious change of course seemed rude to me, as any of the many people in the area who were paying any kind of attention to me, however passively, would know the reason for my re-route.  So, in order to save face and get to my destination, I walked headlong into the swarm of green-jackets.

I am an introvert by nature, and normally I’m inclined to shy away from conversations with strangers.  However, when I was approached by the young man with the clipboard, a desire for an intellectual conversation borne out of the boredom of weeks comprised of nothing more than meaningless small talk rose up inside of me, and I didn’t escape from the conversation at the first polite opportunity I could; the Darth Vader walking down the street (it was Halloween) and even a cell phone call from my brother were not sufficient enough distractions to deter me from having a meaningful discussion.

Truth be told, the underlying motivation I have for talking with anyone for any extended length of time is to push them towards the direction of God.  During this particular occasion I endured a spiel about how in a certain spot in the world, a company was clear-cutting a section of trees, which were home to one or more endangered species.  For the fun of it I threw in a few mindless counter-arguments about how maybe the company wasn’t so bad, as they provided jobs for the locals and money for the local economy.  The lad handled my superficial opposition with ease, and so I let him pop the big question.

“Would you like to become a member of Greenpeace?”  Sure, it may cost a small fee, but how could I flat out refuse?  How could I outright deny the innocent endangered animals and the helpless planet looking at me with their pleading, puppy eyes?  Why, simply by doing the same thing the average upright Canadian does when they so desperately try to defend their saint-like refusal.

“I prefer to donate my money towards causes that help out people.  Not that your cause isn’t important!  But people are in need today, and I should help them out.”

I wasn’t off the hook yet, this guy was good.  He reminded me that by helping the planet, I was helping lots of people too.  The future generations depended on the planets health, which Greenpeace was fighting to protect.

That was where I finally saw my opening.

“According to my beliefs, I don’t think this planet is going to last anyway,” I explained.  “Because the world will be destroyed by God, not humans, during the end times when Jesus comes again.  So like I said before, it’s not that I think that what you’re doing isn’t important, it’s just that it’s not as important in the long run.”

I should have seen his response coming, “but don’t you think God would want you to take care of his creation?”

I was disappointed.  The young man didn’t deny anything I was saying and provide me with more reason to elaborate on or defend my beliefs, but instead he deftly deflected the conversation back towards his own plot to convert me to his own cause.

This story ended up with me realizing the stale-mate we were in and declaring that maybe I should go home and do some of my own research on Greenpeace before I pledge any money towards it (for whatever reason, I didn’t want the guy to think that talking to me was a complete waste of his time, that all along I had no intention of joining Greenpeace).

I just want to pull two things out of this story.

The first thing is that the belief that the end of the world will ultimately come by way of God Himself is the backbone to my beliefs about the environment.  Animal, plant, and planet health are secondary to the health of the souls of the humans who populate Earth.

The second thing is that the young man was right in saying that God wants us to take care of his creation.  The planet is a gift from God, and when receiving any gift from God, the respectful/smart thing to do is be a good steward of it.  So while my belief in the word of God is the backbone of my attitude towards the environment, us using our gift of the environment wisely should really be the limbs of my attitude.

These two points from my story were my two main points for this whole article, but they aren’t my only points.

In the mind of Stephen Selke...

  • All animals don’t have souls (you can assume from this statement that I don’t believe humans are animals).  If I was in the completely impossible hypothetical situation where the only way to save a human life was to kill the world’s population of dogs and cats, I would totally do it
  • Global warming is nothing to get overly concerned about.  The world naturally goes through heating and cooling trends.  I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist or that we should go ahead and let our cars idle, I’m just saying there’s no sense being paranoid of it
  • The world should continue investing in environmentally friendly energy sources like wind-power.  However, we should be more focused on world peace and global hunger situations at international conferences, rather than spending so much time discussing how clean the oilsands are
  • I’m a supporter of the pipeline plans oil companies have - the more money they can help our economy with, the easier time Canada/Alberta will have being a leader in foreign aid.
  • Don’t throw your empty bottles/cans in the garbage, it’s a bad habit.  If you’re lazy like me and don’t like frequenting the bottle depot, keep a collection of recyclables and give them away during a bottle drive, or give it to some homeless man with a shopping cart (once we did that at work, even going so far as to give the guy a ride to the depot with the delivery van)
  • Littering is just plain ignorant and not cool
  • I’m not an animal person, even to the point where I’d pay to not have to take care of any pet.  But I’m not unkind in my dealings with animals, they are God’s creation too.
Will I eventually build up a re-usable collection of green cloth bags?  I probably should.  In the mean time I will take advantage of the fact that Sobeys isn’t yet charging for their plastic bags, as that makes bagging groceries (and sticking my groceries in my fridge without unbagging them) so much easier.

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