By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“With these words I make my covenant with you: I promise that never again will all living beings be destroyed by a flood; never again will a flood destroy the earth.” — Genesis 9:11
It is significant to note that the worst typhoon in human history named Yolanda happened in our country in the month of November designated as Stewardship Month. In the light of Yolanda commemoration, let us focus our reflection on the stewardship of creation.
The Genesis writer firmly believed that God created us to be good and responsible stewards of his creation. This is clearly stated in the first account of creation: “They (human beings) will have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild, large and small. So God created them to be like himself. He created them male and female… I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and the wild animals.” (Gen. 1:26-28)
Unfortunately, this statement of the Genesis Writer has been interpreted from the time of the Industrial Revolution up to the present to mean to exploit the natural world in order to satisfy human greed in the guise of economic development. It is this anthropocentric view of the created world that accounts for the massive environmental degradations worsening steadily up to the present time.
The gradual depletion of natural resources in the Western world led to the colonization of third-world countries like ours to ensure a ready source of raw materials for the expanding industries in the West. And so, the ecological problem has become universal.
Extreme natural calamities, like Typhoon Yolanda, according to experts, are caused by the earth getting warmer and warmer due to pollution and massive destruction of the earth’s forest cover.
Cosmos-centric vs. Anthropocentric
Now, what can we do then to arrest the continuing destruction of our created world? For us church people, we have to change radically, first of all, our theology of creation, our understanding of the world: from being anthropocentric to cosmos-centric, from making human beings the center of the universe to making the whole cosmos the focus of our concern, from exploiting the created world to satisfy human greed to caring for the whole creation for the benefit of all.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has a program called Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. Integrity of creation simply means that the whole created world is equally important as the human being. Creation is there not only for the sake of the human being, but also for its own sake. In other words, the principle of equality and mutuality should be observed in dealing with creation. We care for creation and in return creation also cares for us by providing for our needs.
Injustice and creation
Moreover, we have to deal with the root cause of destructive natural calamities which is no other than massive injustice. In the Biblical story about the Great Deluge during Noah’s time, the flood was caused by widespread human wickedness (Cf. Gen. 6). The word used to mean wickedness could also be interpreted as injustice. It is not really difficult to understand the relationship of injustice to great floods.
If we would look into the great floods in recent Philippine history, like Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo, Yolanda, etc., they became very destructive because of environmental degradation brought about by the destruction of our forest reserves due to logging, especially commercial logging. The massive destruction of our forest by logging companies owned by politicians and big business to satisfy insatiable greed for material wealth at the expense of people’s lives and their future is a form of injustice.
Rainbow of hope and curse
In the Genesis story, God had promised after the Great Deluge that he will no longer destroy the earth with a flood. He said, “With these words I make my covenant with you: I promise that never again will all living beings be destroyed by a flood; never again will a flood destroy the earth.”(Gen. 9:11). And he put up a beautiful rainbow in the sky to serve as a sign of his solemn promise.
But then, nowadays whenever we see a rainbow, it means that rainy season is here and that great typhoons and floods that will bring the loss of lives and properties are now on their way. The sign of blessing and hope has become a sign of curse. Why? Simply because we are yet to deal with the root cause of great floods: massive injustice. Unless massive injustice is dealt with seriously and effectively, we would expect, God forbid, more destructive and great floods to come.
It is now four years since the Yolanda tragedy, and survivors are still waiting for the promised help from the government. There is nothing more unjust than that! # nordis.net