Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Assumptions are necessary in life. Without them we would be testing and confirming everything and have little time to genuinely live and enjoy each moment. We assume and take for granted the air we breath, the ground upon which we walk, the physical laws that govern our movement and existence. Beyond these we make assumptions about relationships, everything from family support to other drivers on the road. Clearly some assumptions come back to bite us.
There are other assumptions, however, that are erroneous, yet they are so knit into the fabric of our beliefs and consciousness that to question them is for some akin to heresy or overwhelmingly absurd.
One assumption humanity practices is that of our place and position as a creature upon the earth. Take for example Earth Day, recognized on April 22. It began in 1970, not even a blink of the eye in the age of the earth. Something about humanity declaring one day as earth day strikes me as arrogant and audacious.  It assumes that we have some inherent right to do with the earth as we choose, to use it and its resources as we choose, regardless of the other creatures that call the earth home or of the earth's wellbeing itself, let alone our own future on the earth that sustains us. I realize that the establishment of Earth Day is about the exact opposite of all of that, but its establishment identifies just how askew our assumptions are regarding our place and role in relationship to the earth.
For those familiar with the Abrahamic faith traditions,  the Genesis account, after the wonders of creation, indicates that The Creator spoke to humankind and said: be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over the earth.
Humankind was also given the responsibility of naming everything.  This naming and the command to have dominion is a huge responsibility. It has, for many, created the assumption that we can do anything we please, that the earth and all of its teeming life is ours to exploit to our advantage. While the earth may be granted to us for our wellbeing, to have dominion is not the same thing as dominating. Imagine, if you will, the relationship of a King or Queen who have dominion over a country of people. Though they have incredible power and privilege, the purpose of which is to govern and manage the land and people to the benefit of all--not to dominate the land and people, but to be good stewards in order to bring about prosperity and wellbeing for all. Any kingdom or nation that has a despot for a ruler will eventually fall because there is a terrifying mismanagement of the resources of land and people.

As we make decisions on various energy policies, economic policies, business policies, and politics, may we test our assumptions that we, as one species on this planet, have a right that supersedes all other life, whether plant or animal, let alone the wellbeing of the planet itself. We are stewards, not owners of the earth. We are to have dominion, not domination over the planet.
The assumption of our right to do as we please, because it serves our current purposes, is erroneous and dangerous. To have one Earth Day is quite frankly based on an erroneous assumption about the relationship between humanity and the planet we call home. Now if the earth had one day a year called humanity day, then that would make more sense.

© 2016 Stephen Carl

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