Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's about Words

Don’t you hate it when you try to warn someone about something bad coming their way, making dire predictions to try to spur them into action, only to have them ignore you? Then, sooner than you expected, those bad predictions come true, but it’s too awful to say “Haha- told you so”…??

That’s how I felt when I read this story about the MN climate this week, and this one about the Arctic. I heard a republican say last week that Bush is only one man, so why should HE try to do anything to stop the warming? I’m afraid that may be true… we’re likely on this path of no return, no matter WHAT we do now. Sigh….

But I did find a tiny ray of hope in another news article. (I think you can get to it without registering only the first time you try, so use your first glimpse well!) Since it’s Sunday and WF and I are busy worshiping in our “church of the big blue sky,” this will be my spiritual musings for the day.

The article made me think again about the words people choose to use and their significance:

“Use of the term "creation care" is important, said Calvin DeWitt, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and the founder of the Au Sable Institute, a Christian institute dedicated to better understanding of the natural world. He said some ministers shy away from being identified as environmentalists.

"Some of them will hug a tree at some point, but they'll hug it because the Creator hugs it, not because some environmentalist hugs it."

Heaven forbid, you wouldn’t want to be associated with those crazy “environmentalists!” But if this is what it takes to get some attention for this poor beleaguered earth from the religious right, so be it. Even though I think the words “creation care” seem oddly condescending (like day care for the planet… how sweet!), I’m glad to hear the conservatives finally using this strange power of buzz words for some good.

I’ve been running into more examples of this power lately. I read George Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant” a while back- very eye-opening. He discusses how the Right has figured out how to conjure up “frames” in our minds with just a word or two… some sly writing/PR prowess that is rather hard to counteract. “Tax Relief,” “Partial Birth Abortion” and all that. There is a lot of meaning and emotion packed into those words, and if interest groups can get the media, etc to use them, it helps to throw the debate.

So if “environment” has become a bad word, or one that is often misused to describe some lefty agenda (as if the “environment” is a quaint hobby that some of us enjoy, “an add-on for birdwatchers”) I applaud their search for words they can use while starting to pay attention to reality.

Even if they are not interested in joining with us in our weird liberal “environment” politics, I think that we might ALL be very interested in things like breathing clean air, drinking safe water and eating food. If they want to work together caring for that they see as “creation” and what I see as a “crucial life support system that we all desperately need,” I’ll be right there beside them.

Alleluia, Mother Earth! Blessed Be!


Anonymous said...

The other "bad" words according to the gospel of the raging right? PEACE and PACIFISM.

As the planet heats up, humans devolve. That's my analysis and I'm sticking to it. :)

Nice post!


Liz said...

I'm almost surprised by that article... sometimes I think that the evangelicals aren't against global warming & enviro destruction because it will accelerate the "end times". I'm glad to see the Christians taking notice of the sorry state of the planet.