Living in an intentional community, we often find ourselves discussing Ruka-related issues in the first-person plural: What are our goals? Why are we doing this? What do we want? And although these communal opinions and convictions are vital to the success of our project, it’s almost more important for us to remember to engage our own selves with these questions.
It is in this spirit of self-searching and personal conviction that I write this week’s blog. So here are some of my personal thoughts on one of our 3 community commitments: Loving the Earth…
On a trip with the Rhodes field hockey team last weekend, as I hopped in the hotel shower, I paused and thought about the commitment I’d made to short showers, just one of the ways in which Ruka members try to be ”green”. Exhausted from practice, standing in that hot, steamy shower got me thinking: Boy, would it be nice to take a 20-minute long shower! Why is it again that we care about implementing environmentally sustainable practices in our home? More importantly, why do I care?
While several members of the Ruka do feel a personal conviction to prioritize their lives around being environmentally friendly, I’ve never been that way myself. When given the choice to spend time and resources directly benefitting either the environment or a group of humans, I’d choose the people any day of the week. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not conscious or compassionate about the earth; it just means that out of all of the injustices in this world that break my heart and fire me up, the environment has always taken a backseat to things like poverty, lack of educational opportunity, and human rights violations.
Considering these things in the shower last weekend, I was surprised to realize that my love of people has given me reason to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle more than anything else. I have been blessed with the gift of being able to travel over the years and work with impoverished peoples and communities all over the world— from Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua, to Spain and Kenya. Living with these different communities has given me an understanding of just how limited this world’s resources are.
When understood in the context of a destitute family in Nicaragua, I saw that one light bulb is more valuable than I ever imagined, a nourishing meal has more worth than the grocery store price tag states, and clean water is priceless.
For me, it’s not necessarily about Mother Earth and saving the whales.
Although I do understand and appreciate the great needs of our earth and the great harm that humans enact on the world, my personal motivation lies not in the rainforests or the wetlands, but in people. I have seen places where resources are few, and I cannot allow myself to throw away water and food and energy and money as if they hold no value. If I become accustomed to frittering away my resources in overconsumption and establishing for myself the most extravagant of comforts, I am being incredibly disrespectful to my neighbors living in want around the world.
We are blessed with so much; of that I am certain. Let’s train ourselves to be conscious of the impact our decisions have on both the earth, other people, and ourselves. Let’s use our resources with intentionality and not flippancy. Let’s not be wasteful.
I constantly need to be reminded of this, especially when I’m craving a long, hot shower… You hold me accountable and I’ll hold you accountable.