Opinion: Wrecking creation is a sin
Written by Jim Antal
August 20, 2011
Stealing from our
children... Robbing future
generations... No, I’m not referring to
the debate on the national debt.
referring to the consequences of a decision now on President Obama’s desk. Obama and Hilary Clinton have the power to
approve – or stop – plans to build a pipeline that will transport Canadian tar
sands through the heartland of America to Texas where it will be processed into
temptation to approve the Keystone pipeline is great. Vast amounts of oil can be extracted. But if they are mined and processed, those tar
sands will become the second-largest “carbon bomb” to be released into the
atmosphere, behind only the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. NASA climatologist
James Hansen explained in a paper
issued this summer that if we tap them, the emissions would mean it’s
“essentially game over” for the climate.
generations will look back at this decision as a critical turning point. Obama has the opportunity to stand up for all
of creation as well as for future generations and declare that wrecking
creation is a sin.
why I went to White House along with numerous climate scientists and other
leaders in the environmental movement to engage in demonstrations to convince
the President that this is a watershed moment – not just for his presidency –
but for all future generations.
faith tradition affirms the universal value known as the Golden Rule – love
your neighbor as yourself. The challenge
our generation faces presents President Obama with an opportunity. He can declare that future generations are no
less our neighbors than the people we live and work and play with every
day. I don’t care what he calls it – I
call it “Golden Rule 2.0". It
represents a universal value that offers a moral compass that can guide us to
make life on our planet sustainable.
Roman Catholic Bishop of St. Paul in Alberta, Canada, Luc Bouchard, released a
Pastoral Letter on “The Integrity of Creation and the Athabasca Oil Sands.” As the leader of the largest Protestant
denomination in the Commonwealth – the United Church of Christ – I applaud his
analysis as well as his conclusion “that the integrity of creation in the
Athabasca Oil Sands is clearly being sacrificed for economic gain.” He also reminds his people of something Pope
John Paul II wrote over 20 years ago. “Faced with the widespread destruction of
the environment people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot
continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past . . . a new
ecological awareness is beginning to emerge - the ecological crisis is a moral
issue.” [Pope John Paul II, Jan. 1, 1990. “Peace with god the Creator, Peace with all of Creation” (par. #’s 1
the first generation to foresee and the final generation with an opportunity to
forestall the most catastrophic effects of global warming, this is the
time. Now is the moment.
as the civil rights movement dreamed of a new order of things and engaged in
new behaviors – which were spiritual practices – God is now calling our
generation to embrace new behaviors. Our
world needs a new moral trajectory based on resilience in place of growth;
collaboration in place of consumption; wisdom in place of progress; vision in
place of convenience; accountability in place of disregard; and balance in
place of addiction.
The Rev. Jim Antal is the UCC's Massachusetts
Conference Minister and an organizer of <Tarsandsaction.org>. Antal and 64 other protestors were arrested in front of the White House August 20, 2011, the date of this op-ed's publication.