The Connection between Earth Care and Caring for Neighbors

In reflecting on her desire for earth care and her motivation to work with SSC, Colleen Simon makes a profound connection between caring for the poor and caring for the earth – are they one in the same? Read her reflections.

Written by Colleen Simon, St. Mark’s Hope and Peace

I live, work, and worship in Midtown KCMO. Every day as I walk to work or church, I see trash on the sidewalks and streets and in the yard of my home and church. It is not as though there aren’t trash cans on the corners of 39th and Troost. The ATA has commercials cans for commuters and they do a good job of keeping the area around them clean, but they can’t be there all the time. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering whythere is so much litter, and this is what I’ve concluded – people throw things away anywhere – because they – the people – feel like society has thrown them away. The institutional structures of society – schools, access to healthcare, access to services – are much more difficult to access for my neighbors than for other people of higher income levels. They are marginalized …pushed to the edges of society – out of sight and out of mind. By littering…they make themselves seen – even if it is an ‘unsightly’ statement!

One of the things that I remember from Awakening the Dreamer is how we talk about trash – about how we throw it ‘away‘. “Where is AWAY anyway?” the moderator asks? Here – the Midtown area – is where society has thrown things away – material and people. But as people of faith, we know that our God who loves us, expects us to care for Creation. The litter on the streets is a symptom of the disease – the lack of care we have for all creation. It is not only the air and water and earth, but also all life and most especially humans. We are not in right relationship with each other and so all of life suffers. Awakening the Dreamer addresses this issue in a variety of ways and helps us to get in touch with what it feels like to be connected with all life and one another – to be in right relationship – and to live more intentionally in regard to the earth’s resources and how we use them. Sometimes simple really is best. As the wombat said on the DVD – “It’s your earth – It’s the only one you’ve got!” By faith we know it is ours to take care of and not to ruin for others.