Church Response To Ecological Crisis


By: Rev. Simon L RaomaiWhat is ecology?The word ecology is a combination of two Greek words, oikos which means house or home and logia means word or study. So the literal meaning of ecology is the habitat of all living beings on earth which human beings share with other living beings and especially to the mutual relations between organism and their environment. So, ecological imbalance means, the crisis and problems in the house or home.The relation between Man and nature:Nature acts or serves the human beings and all living beings as a mother who cares, protects and provides her children all their needs. It provides us with materials for our house, crops plants for our food and water for our drink and many other natural resources. Everything that we need in our day to day’s existence is produced from nature. Therefore, for all these good reasons and factors nature is our mother who nurtures us for survival and sustenance and we cannot live without her. Throughout the ages, our ancestors lived with nature harmoniously and they loved it. Their folk songs and folk tales are closely related with nature. Our ancestor was not aggressive to animals whether domestic or wild except in times of need. The land was carefully preserved. An area of land was preserved for years before it was cultivated. After the cultivation, trees are also preserved and let live for at least ten years again. The forest was never been destroyed. It was kept evergreen throughout the ages. The farmer watched the nature and followed its voice for cultivation and festivals, thus they respected the nature. When a hunter went for hunting he would pray to Almighty God to show him mercy and grant him the needs for the day. The farmers would pray for the soil and bountiful yield of crops. Their relation was a nature based religion. Thus they respected both plants and animals, for they believed that they belonged to god. Our people had emotional attachment to the land and soil because their life was solely dependent on the land.The reverse situations: Today our children are aggressive towards the nature as if ungrateful children are aggressive against his mother torturing and tormenting her who cares and feeds them. We kill all kinds of animals, birds, fish, insects etc. for consumption. The so called civilized or educated people use sophisticated weapons against the defenceless creatures. Man instead of loving the nature, he has become the greatest enemy of the nature. He is also the immediate enemy of his own and is responsible for his self destruction. They exploit all kinds of trees and plants, in the name of economic development, using all kinds of devices and machines. They pollute volumes of water. The air is being polluted with nuclear power in the name of defence. Thus they do not destroy the nature but, also the image of the creator. Bible says “do not harm earth and sea or trees (Rev.7:3). But today people do not care about the nature rather they are at war with nature.Our failures:Global warming and climate change due to Ecological crisis is now one of the greatest problems in human life and it involves in all areas of human life, namely, air pollution, water pollution, deforestation and killing of animals. Here below, let us look at them one by one particularly referring to our own land.Deforestation Despite of god’s bountiful blessings with ever green fertile forest, the land suffers a serious degradation of soil and erosion due to deforestation and burning of jungles. Following are the factors contributed to it -The traditional method of jhum cultivationDue to jhum cultivation, the large portion of forest is destroyed every year. In the past only after 10 or 20 years the farmers return to the same area for shifting cultivation but now after six or seven years they return to the same place. Therefore, fertility is low and harvest is poor. Because of jhum or shifting cultivation trees are mercilessly cut down and deforestation becomes al perpetual activity of man. All good forests including water shades are being destroyed. For all these reasons, our springs are drying up and so are our wet paddy fields. Our streams are also slowly drying uup and consequently we are facing acute scarcity of water everywhere. This shifting cultivation causes soil erosion. And landslide is the consequences of erosion.Business of firewood and charcoalNow, towns are established in our land. Within a couple of decades all trees around the town are destroyed. Town people have no firewood but still town people dwellers use firewood, especially by people who run bakeries, boarding’s, hostels etc. their demands is met by the villagers. Truck loads of firewood are being brought from villages to town and highways for fuel. Therefore, a number of trees are being cut down every day for commercial purposes.Trading of timbersTimber business is also one of the factors of fast deforestation in our land. Now for about a couple of decades, all kinds of forest tree, the green gold of our land have been mercilessly cut down for sale and supply due to human greed and selfish for their fast earnings just like killing the golden hen. Therefore, within few years, precious trees and other valuable medicinal herbs in our land has been tremendously destroyed altogether without considering for the next generation. The big and tall Uningthou was the pride of the people. The good and great houses of the kings were made constructed with uningthou. However, very unfortunately, it is no longer so. Because the uningthou that was once grown thickly have been rapidly disappearing from our forest due to timber business. It is being transported to the towns and cities by the businessman for commercial purposes and it is now seen only in the furniture showrooms and rich men’s houses as furniture. Therefore, today the poor people of Manipur, once the owner of these great trees are now living in bamboo-walled or mud walled houses. As a result the hill people have to go to the saw mill or wood industries to buy again the wood he had sold for the construction of their houses. The homes of the hornbills and swallows, and the shelter of bears and tigers are gradually being destroyed. As a result, the animals and birds are slowly deserting our land and forest to safer places for their survival. On the other hand, while selling the timbers, our ignorant people receive only 20 to 30% of its valued price. We are breaking into our own bank of natural resources along with the outsiders. And our economy is being drained away slowly when we are still in our dormant state without realising the fact of our economic bankruptcy. So today, the beautiful and bountiful forests have vanished and there are only few who had become rich out of this business but many evils have come into the society through this business. With the onset of this timber business in our land, almost all the tribal villages have disputes with one another. These are the negative impacts of the timber business. If we don’t realise or stop committing our senseless act of selfishness and greed, we will be condemned and cursed by our future generation for not leaving their shares of the resources for their survival.Burning jungleOur life is entirely dependent on jungles. We get fuel as well as vegetables from forests. When it is burned our store house is burnt. Millions of medicinal herbs and plants which are the hidden treasures of life saving resources and our future economic hope are destroyed and the soil is irreparably damaged. And many animals and birds are rendered homeless without knowing the consequences of the future. Very unfortunately, our people have the tendency of burning jungles especially during the dry and lean season. We also enjoy watching the wild fire at the pains of other creatures and at the expense of our own loss. Hence, our actions are expediting their extinction from the face of the earth and thereby, our land is left barren. By burning the forest, we are also tarnishing the beautiful of God’s creation. We often recite the Lord’s Prayer… “Give us his day our daily bread.” On the other hand we are destroying the nature from which our daily bread comes forth. God does not send our daily bread directly from heaven, He provides us through the nature.Hunting and fishingThe hill people were not only head hunters but also animal hunters. From time immemorial, the tribals are non-vegetarians. They are very fond of meat eating. Hunting is something like a sport for the tribals. In ancient days, the hunter who brings more animal heads home were honoured and placed in a higher social status. Therefore, most of the hill people were hunters, thereby, which brought about a mass slaughter of the innocent birds and animals. Till today, a group of hunters would go out with guns and spears along with their dogs, howling and shouting, chasing the animals towards the spot where the expert hunters ambush for the prey. By this cannibalistic culture of mass hunting, many animals had been killed and are being chased away from our natural zoological park to a safer habitat elsewhere. This is an act of barbarism and violence against nature. It is strange enough that, instead of admiring and enjoying the beautiful sight of enchanting and chirping birds and leaping animals, the ignorant people would rather attack these beautiful creations of God with stones and weapons as if they are their enemies. This evil attitude against the fauna should be stopped. If this destructive trend of hunting habit continues in our land, the animals like bears, deer, leopard, tiger, wild-boar, reindeer, stag, monkey, pangolin, wild-goat, wild cat, etc. and the beautiful birds will be gradually terminated from our land. The rare orchids and the precious medicinal plant known as white wild ginger is also being exported extensively to other neighbouring countries like Myanmar, China, Thailand, etc. by the traders.My childhood experience:When I was a young boy, I used to see flocks of beautiful hornbills flying over our village when the winter is approaching. I was so thrilled and my joy knew no bounds when I hear enrapturing chirping of the birds and the chattering monkeys near the brook below my kitchen garden. But today, it saddens me to realise that all these lovely creatures have gone out of sight. Who is to be blamed? It is an irony that a place like Manipur once rich in flora and fauna remains a barren land today. Where have all our friends gone? What will be the answers for the questions put to us by the future generations? The legendary birds and animals like will be seen only in the picture books and zoo. Some preventive measures:(1) The church should set up eco care committee in order to check the destruction. (2) The church should create an awareness an eco friendly by way of organising seminars and workshops.(3) The church authority should formulate rules and regulations of hunting and fishing by cooperating with the local authorities. Hunting and fishing during breeding season should be strictly prohibited to restore eco balance.(4) The church should spread the message of preserving and planting more trees and strictly ban felling of trees.(5) The church should encourage to plant cash crops instead of planting cannabis (ganja), poppies, etc. which is unlawful and against the teaching of the Bible.Human beings cannot live alone. God created nature for a specific purpose for eco-balance and co-existence. We are indispensible to one another. Destruction of nature is destruction of self. We understand salvation only in terms of a soul being saved from sin. But if we study the bible carefully, salvation is inclusive of the whole creation. We are living in a crucial age of time when the whole creation is groaning (Romans 8:22). The fish has no place to swim freely, the cattle has no place to graze peacefully; the flower cannot open its bud due to environmental pollution. And humans have no fresh air to breathe. Eventually, there will be no place for mankind to live on this planet. Hence, ecological balance is not only environmental or theological concern but it has become a universal concern of every citizen as we live in a global village. Human life depends on the mother earth; if she is destroyed then mankind will also perish. Therefore, let us arise and restore our resources and take pledge to protect and preserve our land from further destruction less we regret tomorrow. Then only, we can realise the peace and joy of the kingdom of God here on earth.



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