The Common Good

A Call to Serve and Preserve Creation

Sojomail - June 25, 2009


“Air power contains the seeds of our own destruction ... We can lose this fight.”

- Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the new American commander in Afghanistan, pledging to sharply restrict the use of airstrikes there in an effort to reduce the civilian deaths that he said were undermining the American-led mission. (Source: The New York Times)

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Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

A Call to Serve and Preserve Creation

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I just returned to the United States from a clergy conference I was invited to address by Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool. As a leader in the Church of England, he has also become a global leader in the Christian responsibility to “serve and preserve” the earth. In a recent lecture he said:

Just as we look back on previous times with incredulity and wonder how people, especially believers, could have not only condoned but succored the slave trade and slavery, so in later years I think subsequent generations, who will live consciously with the reality that the earth is not a limitless larder, will find it difficult to understand how we could have described ourselves so uncritically as: “consumers.”

A convert to this belief himself, Bishop Jones, without equivocation, calls for conversion of our hearts, our places of worship, and our public policy.

This Friday, HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, is scheduled to go to the House of Representatives for a vote. As we seek to “serve and preserve” the earth on personal and communal levels, this legislation represents a great step forward for our entire country to do the same.

This bill will create incentives for our largest polluting industries to reduce harmful emissions; has the opportunity to create up to 1.7 million new “green” jobs; and has protections for some of the world’s poorest people to help them adapt to the ongoing consequences of climate change. The costs of inaction are already being felt across the globe, and this is the opportunity to mitigate the effects of our consumption and pollution. Leadership from the United States in this area is crucial as the world looks forward to December and the international climate treaty discussions in Copenhagen.

It is clear that to love your neighbor is to love the earth, and we all need to take steps on personal and communal levels to do just that. This means setting priorities and being willing to make sacrifices in our own life, but the same needs to happen on a national and global scale.

This legislation is a start and still far from perfect. But, it defines priorities for policy moving forward and demonstrates substantive changes that can provide global leadership for a challenge we must all face together.

I urge you to call your representative’s office today and ask him or her to vote to pass this climate change bill. You can find your rep’s phone number here, or you can call the congressional switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask to be forwarded.

Make your voice heard and ensure that history does not remember us just as “consumers” of the earth and its resources, but as people who take seriously the God-given mandate to “serve and preserve” the earth.

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Alexie Torres-Fleming is executive director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice in the South Bronx where she was born and raised. In April 2009, Torres-Fleming received Sojourners Amos Award at the Mobilization to End Poverty. She sat down with us afterwards to talk about her work and mission. Click here to read Alexie’s story and see the video interview.

Alexie Torres-Fleming interivew


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