(reposted from Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin's blog: http://blog.bjen.org/ dated January 6, 2012)
In Genesis 1, on the sixth day, God creates man and woman after having created all the rest of Planet Earth. In a gracious effort to provide some guidance, some instruction to these bewildered, befuddled neophytes on how this novelty of life could possibly work, God says, "Look around. All this grandeur is there for you."
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
"All this is at your disposal. But, and this is a huge But, you have to learn how to use it well so you don't mess things up. (I am paraphrasing from the midrash here.)
"Let's begin with the basics.
29Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
"Though I said to you" (interpreting God here), "that the earth is yours, your food shall be its plants. Not the animals and not just any plants, but the stuff that comes with seed, zorea zera, those things that fertilize, renew and regenerate themselves. To the animals and all the other creatures I give green plants for food. To you I give grains and fruits and vegetables of all kinds that carry this harvestable gift of regeneration.
"Regeneration. That is the key. Without that, all this ends. Even you. You need to know that, for you are the one species whose imagination will lead you to assume great powers. You will learn how to tame fire and subdue infections, travel great distances and send messages across the galaxies. But you will also learn how to wrest millions of years of stored energy (stored sunshine!) from the earth and consume it in a flash, to cut down forests faster than they can grow, to drag the seas clean, scraping all its life into your nets.
"To you I say, consume only that which has 'seed' in it, that which can regenerate itself. Harvest the fruit, preserve the seed, plant it and let it grow. Do not consume it all so that it is unable to renew itself."
It seems a simple enough task. Use only what can be recycled and healthily reused. Consume only the stuff and the amounts that allow renewal. Yet we are failing at it.
There is one message we need to repeat over and over again til it sinks in and changes our thoughts, our values and our behavior:
We can't get there from here (to a renewable, resilient world).
We can eventually get there.
But we can't get there from here.
We need to step off this path and move to another. We can do it. We can survive it. We can thrive in it. Indeed, it is the only way we can. But we need to change paths, and it all begins with a change of spirit, of will, of desire.
And that is where we, the faith community, comes in. Spread the word.