Finding meaningful solutions in an era of frenzy
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We live in a culture that praises zealous commitment. In an era of relativism it matters less what you believe as long as you believe it firmly and authentically. A plethora of agendas and causes swirl chaotically, pulling us along with break-neck speed and demanding us to ‘Do something now!’ Often it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something. In his book Political Thinking, Glenn Tinder warns against the way American culture yearns for action and scorns reflection, which seems to take away from the task of finding a solution quickly. Yet, aimlessly throwing money and other resources at a cause or jumping on board with the loudest acclaimed solution does not fix the problem. Good intentions are not enough. Authenticity and concern are not replacements for truth.
Economist Jay Richards, in his book, Money, Greed, and God, reflects on how we see evidence of this reality in the fight against world poverty. Passionate pledges of aid can solve a short term problem but end up perpetuating cycles of dependence. Helping can hurt when not properly considered. Empowerment through economic independence is not our first instinct and is only pursued after thoughtful questions and discussion about the problem.
So, too, we must approach the issue of climate change with this mindset of discernment. It is our responsibility to ask meaningful questions before surrendering our minds to popular sentiment or groupthink based merely on good intentions. It is not enough to join the chorus of voices demanding change unless we think seriously about what should constitute that change. Our climate is a precious gift from the creator God who loves his creation deeply. He expects us to engage wisely in this stewardship and promote flourishing. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). At first glance, popular movements vehemently calling for solutions to climate change seem to encapsulate this mission. But wise stewardship asks the hard questions before jumping deep into a cause.
Asking questions requires us to consider the issue thoughtfully above the frenzy of emotion to avoid hasty solutions. When we consider climate change we must wrestle with questions such as: “How truly urgent is this problem?” “What are economic consequences of government policies and how will this impact human flourishing?” “How do we mitigate pollution on the planet, but allow third world countries a chance to develop and pursue prosperity?” “How far should government influence extend in this issue?” “How do we take dominion of creation as stewards and build civilization while preserving our climate?” Only after we ponder questions like these can we formulate a beneficial plan of action.
Assuredly, this is not our first instinct and goes against the grain of our culture. We feel useless when we don’t vote for the first policy proposed or lift our voices with the deafening cry for immediate change. But our earth and our climate is part of a holistic mission of stewardship to promote human flourishing. Asking the integral questions and taking the necessary time to provide answers must precede any emotional action. Only then can we truly grasp the consequences of proposed solutions and pursue the change we yearn to see in our world and climate.