Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Earth Is My Witness

The earth was not created; it most likely formed from the accumulation of interstellar dust in a process called planetary accretion. I raise this, not to undermine the notion of creationism, but to point out creationism's most dangerous logical conclusion--that the earth was created for humans.

This fundamental error, endorsed by some of the world's most influential religions, has been the root of many of our ecological and moral crises--pollution, animal cruelty and exploitation, the decimation of endangered species, fracking, deforestation, and so on.

I wish that this were a massive exaggeration, but the United States is currently facing one of the greatest threats to the environment that it has seen in decades (if not ever). The Trump administration seeks to deregulate the EPA and its related protective legislature to promote business expansion. If modern industry is left unchecked to do as it pleases, the result of this could be disastrous.

And at the heart of this lies that fundamental error--that the world was created for humans to do with as they please. Whether Trump and his administration genuinely believe such a fallacy is irrelevant because millions of people do, and not just his constituents. I would wager that even those Americans who don't identify as being religious subscribe to this destructive myth.

Stated directly:
Humans are not the owners of earth. This planet was not created for our entertainment, amusement, or consumption. And most importantly, humans are not the center of the universe.
Buddhism understands that humans are interconnected to everything else. While it is our habit to privilege humanity above other species or the planet as a whole, this tendency is not grounded in reality. Earth wasn't created for us; we are earth. We cannot exist without the soil, air, and food that grows. Humans--while an evolved species and a magnificent expression of life--do not live in a vacuum; inseparable from our environment, we are our environment. In the vast web of life, distinctions are arbitrary. There is no clear line demarcating where we begin and the earth ends.

We are an expression of that great unity called life, and as a conscious embodiment of it, we are responsible for how we treat the rest of the world. Because of developments in science and technology, humans have risen to become a dominant species on earth, but that does not make us the planet's rulers. Far from it, we are stewards at best.

We must learn to govern, live, and share this world responsibly. This begins with seeing clearly. I challenge--and encourage you to challenge--the destructive myth that animals were created for us to eat; that the earth was created as our playground. Nothing could be further from the truth, or more destructive.

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