EARTH Day 1990 promises to be the largest demonstration ever of people's commitment to building a safe, sustainable planetary ecology. Will it make a difference? That will depend upon each one of us. The question I am asked most frequently in my environmental science classes is, Can individuals really make a difference? Does it really matter if I separate my garbage for recycling? My answer is always the same: ``Yes! Each of us does make a difference. Our ability to think and act rightly is important to the well-being of the planet including humankind.''
Where do I get my conviction that one person makes a difference? From the Bible. In the Bible there are many examples of women and men whose lives did make a difference. Their conviction that God, good, is All led them to take actions that profoundly changed people's lives for the better.
For example, Moses' humble reliance on God helped him take a stand against the injustices his people faced in Egypt. And where would Christianity be if Christ Jesus had chosen not to engage in his healing ministry because he was only one person? Or if the disciples had decided that since Jesus was gone and they were outnumbered, it would be pointless for them to carry on? The closeness these individuals felt with God impelled them to serve God without fear. For, as the Psalmist put it, ``Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.''1
It is natural for the man of God's creating to think and act rightly because he reflects God's innate goodness and wisdom. As we each act in accord with what we understand of our real spiritual identity, we will find ourselves impelled to initiate or participate in constructive activity. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Consistent prayer is the desire to do right.'' And on the next page she writes, ``The world must grow to the spiritual understanding of prayer.''2
As a naturalist, I have many opportunities to see the interconnections between people and nature and prayer for guidance in how I can effectively make positive contributions. There are so many ways that one individual's prayer-guided actions can make a difference -- can actually bring healing. But I remember one example particularly because I saw the results of my prayer so quickly. A friend and I were driving home when a screech owl hit the car. Should I stop for just one small owl? As a person who chooses prayer as a foundation for seeking solutions, I realized this was an opportunity to see the indestructible, spiritual nature of God's creation. I stopped the car, but I also continued to pray to understand that God's spiritual creation is always safe in His tender care. As I prayed, the owl quickly recovered and flew to a nearby tree, where it spent the night. The next day it flew away.
A small example? Maybe. But the owl bolstered my conviction that it doesn't matter what the project is -- from organizing a local recycling effort to cleaning up oil on Alaskan beaches -- one person can care enough to bring change. One person's actions, when prayerfully impelled, are enough to get something started and keep it moving.
Earth Day 1990 can remind us that we are all part of the same global family, which is not complete without all of its members. Each one of us is important and essential. And the contributions we each make, in the way we think and act, do determine the health of our environment and of our global family.
1Psalms 37:5. 2Science and Health, pp. 9-10.