A Rocha: Christians in Conservation
11/18/12 at 01:15 AM 0 Comments

Mandate?

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by Tom Rowley, Executive Director of A Rocha USA

Whether your candidate won or lost, I think we can all say “Hallelujah” that the election is over. Amen?

Yet just as the red and blue electoral map was answering who would be president, the next—inevitable—question was being asked: Is this a mandate and, if so, what is it?

As this is not a political piece, I’ll merely repeat a couple of the mandates I heard and offer thoughts on another I read.

First, if the final months of this election cycle were indicative of our national focus, then what we care most about is...wait for it…money.

From deficits to taxes to jobs, it was all dollars all the time. Even when issues such as education, healthcare and immigration came up, they were given a decidedly economic spin.

Which is not to say that the economy is unimportant. We want and a great many of us desperately need economic improvement. People need jobs to afford food and shelter, education and health care. And sadly, many are without. These are scary times. The shadow of the great recession darkens the present and the future doesn’t look all that bright either with its fiscal cliffs, global debt crises and more. So, fix the economy, please! (Hey, no one ever said political mandates had to be realistic.)

Second, despite our name we have become The Divided States of America. With a mere two percentage points separating the popular vote, with partisan gridlock the order of the day in Washington and with family, friends and neighbors arguing red-faced with one another, it is difficult to even remember what the “U” in USA stands for. Please make government work again for the good of the country and not just for political gain.

Other important goals were also mentioned in the mandate conversation--healthcare, education and immigration among them. Once again, yes, we need work on all these.

Sadly, another essential issue went missing in the mandate discussion and throughout the campaigns. We just didn’t hear it. But we can read it: “God took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order.” (Genesis 2:15)

This is the first mandate, or Mandate if you will, that God gave us. And as with those given subsequently, we’ve fallen short. We haven’t kept “it in order.”

Not that I expect to hear such a “religious” mandate coming from candidates, voters or political pundits. But I did expect or at least hope we might hear more—anything—about the protecting the environment. Not least since all the other issues discussed ultimately depend upon it. Don’t believe that? Where will we be without food and the soil that grows it, without the bees that pollinate it? What will we do without fresh water to drink and clean air to breath?

Tragically, we have forgotten those connections and fallen into an either/or mindset. Save jobs or save owls. Grow the economy or protect the earth. Short sighted at best. Crazy at worst. As Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Jay “Ding” Darling once put it, ““How rich will we be when we have converted all our forests, our soil, our water resources and our minerals into cash?”

And it is all so unnecessary. God didn’t give us charge over an either/or creation: “You can either have the things you need to live or you can have a healthy planet. Pick one.”

Rather, God put us in a bountiful garden and told us to enjoy and take care of it. And even after we messed up and lost that gig, God said that

“if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.” (Deuteronomy 11:13-15)

In both passages, the key seems to be “order”—in Genesis to keep the Garden in order and in Deuteronomy the order of obedience followed by land fertility and our own satisfaction. In neither case, have we kept order. Returning to it seems a good mandate for all of us.

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