To celebrate Earth day, I give you the Third Commandment of The Ten Commandments and an excerpt from Wendell Berry’s 2005 essay, The Burden of the Gospels.
“To be convinced of the sanctity of the world, and to be mindful of a human vocation to responsible membership in such a world, must always have been a burden. But it is a burden that falls with greatest weight on us humans of the industrial age who have been and are, by any measure, the humans most guilty of desecrating the world and of destroying creation. And we ought to be a little terrified to realize that, for the most part and at least for the time being, we are helplessly guilty. It seems as though industrial humanity has brought about phase two of original sin. We all are now complicit in the murder of creation. We certainly do know how to apply better measures to our conduct and our work. We know how to do far better than we are doing. But we don’t know how to extricate ourselves from ourcomplicity very surely orverysoon.How could we live without degrading our soils, slaughtering our forests, polluting our streams, poisoning the air and the rain? How could we live without the ozone hole and the hypoxic zones? How could we live without endangering species, including our own? How could we live without the war economy and the holocaust of the fossil fuels? To the offer of more abundant life, we have chosen to respond with the economics of extinction.
If we take the Gospels seriously, we are left, in our dire predicament, facing an utterly humbling question: How must we live and work so as not to be estranged from God’s presence in His work and in all His creatures? The answer, we may say, is given in Jesus’s teaching about love. But that answer raises another question that plunges us into the abyss of our ignorance, which is both human and peculiarly modern: How are we to make of that love an economic practice?
That question calls for many answers, and we don’t know most of them. It is a question that those humans who want to answer will be living and working with for a long time—if they are allowed a long time. Meanwhile, may Heaven guard us from those who think they already have the answers.”(2005)