Tourism videos promoting a country often show us the paradisiacal or idyllic attractions to be enjoyed there. And yet behind every tourist spot like Boracay, El Nido, Puerto Galera, etc., there is an ongoing “battle” against the careless destruction man is inflicting on Mother Earth. For the past year, we have seen clean-up drives that have been done to bring back the pristine beauty of these places.
In the 17th century, John Milton wrote and published his epic poem “Paradise Lost.” He was evidently referring to the Garden of Eden which humankind had lost because our foreparents disobeyed God’s command. God cast them out of that garden of eternal bliss to a place of constant struggle, where land cultivated to yield fruit produced thistles and brambles. Over millennia, human beings have tried to rebuild this lost Paradise on earth, through hard work, “by the sweat of their brow.”
Yet, every day we continue to “lose” our earthly Paradise, slowly engulfed by tons of plastic waste and other non- biodegradable garbage we ourselves generate all over the world.
Notable English broadcaster and natural historian, David Attenborough warns that the age of the Garden of Eden is already over as we are in the Age of Humans. Actually, we are rapidly destroying our planet by our neglect and excessive greed. We have been given a beautiful world and are called to be stewards of creation by God.
Sad to say, we reject his call and his love for us. The world’s great religions also teach their followers to love and take care of God’s creation. This care for creation or the natural world can be a point of convergence and a venue for collaboration among different religions and even in the scientific world.
Climate change is a problem which touches everyone. Religions, in a way, can help save the Earth by working for environmental protection. St. Francis of Assisi, a man reputed to have resembled Christ the most, is one of the best models of caring for the natural world. But Buddha too and Gandhi made themselves one with creation. These religious leaders taught their followers to care for the Earth.
Now that the campaign to avoid single- use plastics is picking up worldwide, and the call to work together to stop climate change is gaining momentum, we must join the bandwagon to halt the impending apocalypse that humans have caused.
Young people like Greta Thundberg and Felix Finkbeiner have already spoken up and spearheaded environmental initiatives. More than a decade ago, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” campaigned to educate people on the dangers of global warming. Pope Francis himself wrote extensively on care for the Earth, our common home, in his Encyclical Laudato Si’.
Although we can see that many countries and international organizations have begun to do something concrete to respond to the ongoing ecological disaster the world is facing – such as the EU ban on single-use plastics by 2020 – we hope that it is not “too little, too late.”
The government and the private sector should seek all possible ways to collaborate in order to achieve visible and sustainable goals to save our earthly Paradise.
Never has our world had a greater need to be creative in stopping greenhouse gas emissions and plastic pollution. We have to plant more trees, use renewable energy, and, most of all, change our lifestyle from a consumeristic to a simple one which leaves a minimal carbon footprint, and is earth-friendly.
Let’s continue to spread awareness and act now before it’s too late… Our earthly Paradise is not yet lost! Let us work together to save it.