King would not be silent on Earth’s plight
(Re-posted with permission of the author.)
By DR. MYRON F. MCCOY (president of St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City)
Kansas City Star Special Insert, January 14, 2008, page 8
Like some who try to address contemporary issues through the lens of historical figures and time frames, I wish never to be guilty of attributing to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stances he would have never considered or subscribed to.
Saying that, I have every reason to believe that if Dr. King were around today, he would have much to say about global warming, environmental sustainability and our need to act immediately.
These concerns would be rooted in his strong belief that persons are to strive to live in harmony with both the physical and moral laws of God and acknowledge the consequences of our living in disharmony with such laws.
Therefore, global warming and our inability to work on issues of sustainability as a human race should make recognizable the lethal consequences of our failure to address this rampant disharmony.
Dr. King would readily perceive the danger we face with global warming, evidenced by victims still recovering in the Gulf region, the diminishing habitat of polar bears in the far north, and growing drought-like conditions in his native South and in the West.
And I do believe he would have a problem with our speaking of democracy and human rights with a “fork-like tongue” with some nations and not with others when our steady diet of energy consumption is at risk.
I’m convinced that if Dr. King were living today, we in the U.S. would be taken to task for our voracious consumerist appetite that has led to the depletion, destruction and destabilization of much of God’s creation.
We would be reminded that at least a quarter of the world’s population does not have access to electricity or safe drinking water, and that we are the world’s leading polluter and emitter of greenhouse gases in our disproportionate use of nonrenewable energy sources.
We would be challenged to look beyond our own comfort to consider the welfare and survival of our world and take the lead in turning the above picture around.
Also, being a man of faith and reason, Dr. King would have been persuaded by the evidence of scientists, fellow Nobel Prize laureates on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former Vice President Al Gore.
I can imagine Dr. King challenging us with their forewarnings of the rising sea levels and the Earth’s surface being blighted by drought.
He would remind us, too, that these changes represent justice issues both here and abroad, as the poor will disproportionately suffer from our collective inability to recognize that “The Earth is the Lord’s.”
Dr. King would want us to communicate the message of dangerous disharmony to our elected officials. He would want us to tell the U.S. auto industry to engineer for even more miles per gallon than already agreed to by the president and Congress.
Dr. King is so right: “No individual can live alone; no nation can live alone. … We must all live together. … Or we will perish together as fools. We are tied together in a single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. … Whatever affects one directly affects all.”
We would be posited with this question from Dr. King: “What will happen to humanity if I don’t help?” Conservation would be emphasized, as it could relieve us of the pressure of jumping into quick fixes without considering all the risks and exploring other alternatives.
Conservation could help us from mounting faulty foreign policy objectives and adding to our position as a debtor nation. Everyone would be invited to do their part in conserving these “God-owned” and “God-given” precious resources.
Indeed, Dr. King would want people of faith to lead the way in contributing to environmental sustainability, as energy conservation could lead to more physical exercise, less pollution and numerous other direct benefits to human health.
He would want us to recognize that we’re quickly running out of time, and the time to begin doing the right thing is always now.