April 24, 2009
Owners or Stewards?


Christian Council message for Earth Day – April 22nd

Christians believe that there is one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth and all that exist, both seen and unseen; that the universe is good and it is the work of a single loving God who creates, sustains and directs it; the world belongs to God, and human beings are called to enjoy it, use it and care for it according to the purposes of God. In other words we are stewards of God, called to share with God in his purposes for His Creation.{{more}} However, the record shows that we have confused our roles, that is, we take stewardship to mean ownership, and we behave as though we own the world. We misuse the freedom, which God has given to us and make wrong choices, we rebel against God, and we put ourselves in the place of God. As we celebrate Earth day 2009 we call on all citizens and people of good will to seriously consider the need for us all to be more responsible in our use and care of this blessed land and the rest of the earth.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is beautiful, but it is a fragile beauty that can easily be destroyed if we do not take the time and energy to understand and better appreciate what God has given to us. Take sometime to reflect on your life, ask yourself, what have I taken from the earth? – The food I ate, the water I drank, the timber I used in construction – and then the question, what have I given in return? We cannot only take from the earth, we must also give back. What can I give back? Well, we can have some method in the way we take things from the earth and also seek to take good care of it. When we destroy the forest by cutting down the trees to make way for agriculture, construction and to produce charcoal, when we clear the forest we destroy the homes of many species of wildlife. We also leave steep hillsides unprotected and heavy rains wash our soils away. Let us seek to plant two trees for every one that we cut down and try to observe the close and open seasons for hunting wildlife. Plant roots keep the soil together. The leaves form thick canopies that protect the soil from the sun and from erosion by rain and wind.

We all need a good clean supply of water. Life would not be possible without water. We depend on water for drinking, hydro-electricity and many other things. Water is crucial to our survival. Yet we do not miss it until it is gone. Let us endeavour not to waste it. Using pesticides and cutting down trees near to our watersheds and indiscriminate use of water surely will not help. Ensure that you turn off all pipes after use, check them regularly so you will spot leaks, don’t keep your water running while you bathe or are washing, and remember “you never miss the water till the well runs dry.”

In St. Vincent & the Grenadines we have two kinds of beaches- black sand and white sand beaches. It is true we need sand and stone for block making and other construction work, but we must also take care that we don’t destroy the beaches. Vincentians and visitors alike enjoy our beaches and use them for various activities. In addition, with the effects of global warming, we have to contend with rising sea levels, if our sand mining is not properly regulated and controlled. We would not only be in danger of losing our beaches, but also making our coastal areas more vulnerable to the effects of floods and storms.

Let us keep St. Vincent & the Grenadines clean – Littering has many adverse effects. It affects us all by encouraging rats, mice, roaches, flies, and mosquitoes. They go in search of food in the garbage we leave at the road side and other unprotected places and then carry germs to us human beings. Rats and roaches carry diseases and destroy food. Flies transmit cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever and mosquito spread diseases such as yellow fever, malaria and dengue fever. Litter is unsightly, unhealthy and it can affect our lives and economy a great deal. Let us provide proper garbage disposal bins and public toilet facilities, dispose of all used tires and dead animals in a proper way or report all dead animals seen to the Sanitation Department. Refrain from dumping garbage along the beach, riverbanks, and roadsides and especially from your transport into the streets and gutters, and urinating and defecating against walls, passageways and behind buildings. We can start at home by training our children to keep their rooms and surroundings clean and tidy.

Conservation is very important as we seek to give back to the earth. However, once again we must be careful how we go about doing this. We learn that plastic does not naturally degrade and recycling plastic only defers the plastic disposal problem. Therefore, we need to use more paper bags and straw baskets. We must also encourage government to buy recycled products and to pass legislation that promotes market development. We can also lobby newspaper publishers to use recycled newsprint, businesses to purchase recycled office paper and construction companies to use recycled building materials. We must first endeavour to avoid disposability and then seek to reuse and recycle.

In the area of conservation we need also to conserve electricity, by turning off all lights and equipment which are not in use, and drawing our drapes and curtains during the day so more natural light can be used; we can also used energy saving bulbs. We have become so accustomed to air-conditioning that even though we are situated in areas where there is a steady breeze and have several windows we prefer to use the “aircon” rather than to inhale the natural, refreshing and healthier air.

Finally, God has given us fertile lands, natural waters and various talents and skills, let us show our appreciation for what God has given to us by using more of what we produce – Ground provision, bananas, breadfruit to name a few arts and crafts. One way of inculcating the taste for local food is to include these in the menu of meals served at our schools.

God has provided us with all that we need for survival. There is enough in the world for every person to have a comfortable existence but greed has caused some to exist in inhumane, deprived and unfortunate circumstances. Let us seek to develop ways and means of encouraging ourselves and others, to be ever conscious that we are stewards and not owners of this world. Enjoying, using and caring for the world with others in mind, striving to ensure that the decisions that we make are not based on selfish goals but on the well-being of all.

Are we being good stewards or are we continuing to confuse our role in this world? We remind you as well as ourselves that this world belongs to God and we are to enjoy it, use it and take care of it according to the purposes of God. Think about it.