|From the book "Faith and Practice", A Book of
Christian Discipline, by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the
Religious Society of Friends
Walking Gently on the Earth
We recognize that the well-being of the
earth is a fundamental spiritual concern. From the beginning, it was
through the wonders of nature that people saw God. How we treat the
earth and its creatures is a basic part of our relationship with God.
Our planet as a whole, not just the small parts of it in our immediate
custody, requires our responsible attention.
As Friends become aware of the
interconnectedness of all life on this planet and the devastation caused
by neglect of an any part of it, we have become more willing to extend
our sense of community to encompass all living things. We must now
consider whether we should lay aside the belief that we humans are
acting as stewards of the natural world, and instead view human actions
as the major threat to the ecosystem.
Friends are indeed called to walk gently
on the earth. Wasteful and extravagant consumption is a major cause of
destruction of the environment. The right sharing of the world's
remaining resources requires that developed nations reduce their present
levels of consumption so that people in underdeveloped nations can have
more, and the earth's life-sustaining systems can be restored. The world
cannot tolerate indefinitely the present rate of consumption by
technologically developed nations.
Friends are called to become models and
patterns of simple living and concern for the earth. Some may find it
difficult to change their accustomed lifestyle; others recognize the
need and have begun to adopt ways of life which put the least strain on
the world's resources of clean air, water, soil, and energy.
A serious threat to the planet is the
population explosion and consequent famine, war and devastation. Called
on to make decisions to simplify our lives, we may find that the most
difficult to accept will be limiting the number of children we have.
Voluntary simplicity in living and
restraint in procreation hold the promise of ecological redemption and