Facing the Future
Suppose that you are forty-five years old, a smoker, a bit overweight, and were suffering from what seemed like a minor complaint, like shortness of breath, and decided that maybe you'd better see a doctor, especially since you seem to be running a bit of a temperature. And suppose that after taking a family history— which perhaps included a parent or grandparent who lived to be 95 — and after checking you out, he were to say to you that it is entirely up to you, and that if you lost some weight and quit smoking and started exercising more, you too might live into your 90s, but that short of taking such simple measures, your chances are slim of even making it through your 60s. What would you choose to do, heed the doctor's advice, or simply ignore it and go on living the way you have been?
It seems that lots of people do the latter. Given a choice between a long life that demands some sacrifice and self-discipline, and a short life that doesn't, they'll choose to just keep doing what they've always done, heedless of the consequences to themselves as well as perhaps to their family. But let's take this supposing one step further. Suppose the doctor says that as a result of your bad habits, not only you but your children, but even your grandchildren and your descendants all down the line will have shortened lives and whose health will be even more threatened?
"Impossible" you say; "Who ever heard of such a thing?" Well, perhaps it sounds like a strange medical scenario, but the comparison in some ways fits when it comes to our present treatment of the environment. The earth is running a temperature (global warming), it is short of breath (air pollution), and is overweight and flabby in places (especially when it comes to the developed countries). And while the overall condition of the planet may not affect the immediate sense of well-being among those countries that are comparatively well-off and prosperous, the fact is that is precisely the population of these same countries that are going to have to make the biggest changes in their life-style if the whole world is going to somehow escape the dire long term consequences.
Of course, while we can always be sure, unfortunately, that there will always be some people who will shrug and say "So what?" or even point out that the Earth, just like ourselves, will eventually die, so why not just "eat, drink and be merry" in the meantime? Or why give a damn about the future?
Nevertheless, it seems to me that sooner or later such people (and nations) have to held to account, if not before God— surely the Creator should be more than just passively concerned — then certainly before the tribunal of world opinion. Just as civil society does not put up with those who rob, steal, or threaten the lives of others, so too the world will soon have to take measures to isolate, punish, and, if possible, to undo the damage caused by those nations or segments of society whose behavior threatens our planet's future.
R W Kropf 7/13/07Earth'sFuture.doc 07-07-13.html