Why We Don’t and How We Can (Care for Creation)
These reflections are devoted to citing a number of obstacles that keep us from caring for creation. Many of us are absolutely committeed to do what we can to lower our destructive impact on Earth and to behave in ways that serve to diminish our impact and generate a positive restoration of Earth. Yet we often simply do not do that. Or at least we do not do as much as we think we should. We can open our eyes by doing a Fearless Moral Inventory, as AA calls it, to all living and non-living beings we have harmed. We can also become aware of the ways our personal behavior and our public witness are blocked or prevented by various personal reasons,cultural assumptions, and religious beliefs. We seek to name some of those blocks and suggest how we might change to make a difference.
Why We Don't and How We Can (Care for Creation). Reason #1: Habit
Why We Don’t.
Several years ago, the American Psychological Association did a study of the reasons why people do not take greater action in their personal lives and in public life on behalf of the environment. The study was not about naysayers who need to be convinced that the environment is not a problem. Rather, they surveyed people who do in fact believe that human activity contributes to environmental degradation and who already have an ethical commitment to care for creation. Often, such people (people like us!) do not change their daily behavior to reflect their values. Why?
The study identified a whole list of reasons why this discrepancy between commitment and action occurs. However, the overwhelming reason was simple: habit! People reported that they are aware that they have habits that contribute negatively to the environment but that they do not change them. These may include such things as leaving lights, televisions, and computer on when not in use, letting the water run when unnecessary, turning heat up and air down for comfort without changing dress according to temperature, buying products that come from great distances, putting herbicides and pesticides on lawns, eating high on the food chain, driving when you could walk or ride, and so on.
How We Can
It is not easy to change habits, especially when they are longstanding, deep set, and give us payoffs (like happiness and efficiency). If you want to change some habits, try these suggestions.
1. Choose one habit at a time and work it for three months. Bring other members of your household in on the plan and get their cooperation and commitment. It is hard to change when no one else is doing it. If you can sustain the change for three months, you may well have a new habit that supports the environment. When you have changed one habit, begin to change another one.
2. Reflect on the impact your bad habit has and what difference it will make to change it. If you do not fully understand why your change is worth taking, this will undercut your motivation.
3. Eliminate some habits with technology. For example, if you are able, install motion sensitive lights in certain rooms that will automatically turn off when no one is present. Be creative!
4. Post reminders. For example, post reminders on mirrors in all bathrooms to turn off water while brushing teeth. Put notes on diswasher and washing machine to use only with a full load.
5. Establish a new schedule. For example, set one day of the week when you will not eat meat, such as “meatless Mondays,” as a means to eat lower on the food chain. Then identify some meatless recipes you like and include the ingredients on your shopping list.
6. Take time to make alternative plans: For example, make a list you can use to shop for more local and organic food. Put the list where you will take it with you each time you shop.
It is not easy to change habits. However, many small actions can accumulate and make a large difference. Besides, the change will increase your awareness and commitment to the environment. If you do have a commitment to care for creation and want to have your behavior reflect this, think of these changes as part of your spiritual discipline to love Earth as you love your neighbor.