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Polar Opposites
Photo: Scott Liddell
Countless times when tragedy has flashed across a screen, or when I have heard about a horror unspeakable, I have thought to myself: “How does this affect me?” Perhaps I am alone in admitting this less than altruistic thought, but I think humanness pervades us all. And it is becoming more apparent all the time that this ability to be cold towards catastrophe and calamity alike affects what is around us both near and far. A recent story in the news brought this home to me with searing clarity that I have been unable to shake.

I was driving home from work one day, gleaning the latest headlines off the radio, when the announcer said that Polar bears are being considered a threatened species. Later that night as my one-year old son sat in my lap and we browsed one of his animal books, we saw the majestic Polar bear. I pointed to it and growled loudly, as it is tradition that I shamelessly make all the animal noises as dramatically as possible for his endless amusement. After he was tucked in for bed, the unsympathetic question arose concerning the Polar bear: “How does this affect me?” As I felt guilty for thinking that, an idea with tremendous gravity started to weigh on my mind. I needed to stop thinking about how the world affects me, and start thinking about how I affect the world around me.

Greenhouse Gasses

You see, the reason that Polar bears are being considered a threatened species is that the geographic area of their habitat is shrinking rapidly. The ice that Polar bears have lived on and hunted on is quickly melting away. The U.S. Minerals Management Service has even said that the bears are drowning from having to swim so much further to make it across increasingly widening gaps in the ice. The ice, according to an ever increasing mountain of evidence, is melting because of greenhouse gasses. These gasses come from fossil fuels that trap heat and warm the earth’s surface. These fuels are expelled into the air by me. By you. By us.

The beauty of the earth, typified by stunning wildlife such as the Polar bear, is affected by each of us. If we believe ourselves to be stewards of creation, caring for that which God has given us, than I believe we also have a Christian duty to ask ourselves: “How do I affect the world around me?” To be a follower of Christ without sacrifice, and to desire a beautiful earth without protecting it, would be to lead a life of polar opposites.

Start simple. Think the three R’s. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

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By Garrett Gladden. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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