Dear friends in Christ,
The news about Amazon rainforest fires is devastating. Damage to the environment is incalculable, and it’s particularly disturbing because these fires are almost certainly set by humans. I was thinking this is a depressing story that is happening far away until I saw a headline this week. “The Amazon is burning because the world eats so much meat.” Ouch. Even though I eat a mostly veggie diet, maybe this story involves me after all. Meat consumption may cause rainforest loss, but buying fresh peppers flown in from another country has its own costs.
The point is that my actions have global consequences. When I buy a shiny new phone, rare minerals had to be mined somewhere. There’s an environmental cost to my new phone, though I may never see the open strip mine. That same phone may be manufactured in a factory in which the working conditions are grim. Though I will never meet the factory workers, there is an impact on someone’s life from my choices. I can buy clothing that is made in a factory where conditions are poor, or I can spend a few more dollars and buy clothing made in a factory where workers are well paid and well treated.
I’m not here to castigate you, dear reader, for your life choices and spending habits. Nor am I here to wail about my own choices. But I am here to say that what I choose today in my home in Cincinnati may have repercussions in another part of the world.
Loving my neighbors doesn’t just mean being kind to the people who live in my neighborhood. We say in our baptismal promises that we will respect the dignity of every human being, and surely that includes human beings I will never meet.
The Gospel is lived out in many ways. I can tell someone about how Jesus Christ frees us from our sins. And I can live my life in a way that frees people from other kinds of tyranny, from the sinful consequences of endless consumption.
What is the good news here? There are lots of ways to live out our lives so that we support the quality of life of others. We can tell people that we are choosing not to eat something or to buy a particular item because of our faith, a faith that looks out for not only my own interests but the well-being of all creation.
What about you? Are you living in a way that helps others thrive? Are you willing to give up those things that might harm others? It’s not easy, but no one ever said it is easy to follow Jesus Christ.
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