It was just a chewing gum wrapper. But after I mindlessly tossed it into beautiful Lake Minnetonka when I was on a boat ride with friends, I felt a twinge of guilt: “What if everyone threw their gum wrappers into the lake?”
That experience from my teenage years comes back to me when I think of the UN Climate Change Conference currently taking place. Governments are discussing how the world’s inhabitants can work individually and together to address the urgent need to reverse how human actions have increasingly changed the Earth and its atmosphere, seemingly with destructive results: more hurricanes, spreading wildfires, excessive flooding, and so on.
But what can one person do?
When I tossed that wrapper into the lake, it was only a tiny microcosm of the much bigger problems of abuse facing the Earth. But the twinge of guilt I felt offers insight into where change needs to start – with our own thinking. We need to think before we act.
The Earth is not humanity’s personal possession to use as we please for personal gain. And the Bible points out that “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalms 24:1). We have the God-given responsibility to care for and “replenish the earth” (see Genesis 1:27, 28).
To achieve this means gaining a higher perspective of creation as made by divine Spirit, God, in which all that God knows is spiritual and good, like Himself. By seeing “the earth ... and the fulness thereof” through this spiritual lens, we shed light on the divine goodness underlying all we see materially. This supports the emergence of ideas for how to help that take shape in practical ways. Living up to this loving responsibility is natural to who we truly are, because God is Love, and in our God-given identity we are actually divine Love’s spiritual image and likeness. By prayerfully listening for God’s guidance – loving God and yielding to His universal good will – you and I can contribute mightily to healing our planet and its atmosphere.
On this spiritual basis, each of us can adopt a conscientious, daily practice of listening for divine direction that helps us thoughtfully care for our planet – in everything we do in our personal lives, and in the broader scope of our activity in areas such as business, teaching, manufacture, construction, and government. As Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, once wrote: “The purpose and motive to live aright can be gained now. This point won, you have started as you should” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 326).
We carry out this unselfish purpose whenever we pause and examine our thinking, and bring it into accord with God’s universal good will – before we make decisions and act on them. Christ Jesus set the example for us. He said, “My judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).
Yielding to God’s will cannot deprive us of any good. Thoughtfully and unselfishly caring for the Earth and its atmosphere can only result in greater blessings and increased safety for all humanity. Each of us can start right now to keep God’s limitless love at the forefront of our thoughts as we go about life on our planet. As we go about our daily lives, enter into community gatherings, and attend meetings, let’s prayerfully consider, and help others consider, decisions that will accelerate change for the better.
From the smallest to the largest decisions we make, it’s a good thing to selflessly listen for and follow God’s universal good will in order to lovingly care for the Earth.