Have You Ever Wondered—
Can You Do Anything About Pollution?
MOST people would scarcely enjoy living in a garbage dump. Yet when you hear about smog alerts, oil spills, “dead” lakes and fallout from nuclear accidents, or see trash-cluttered streets and parks, you may understandably wonder if our beautiful earth is not being turned into just that—a global garbage dump.
Pollution is often viewed as an unwanted but inevitable side effect of “civilization.” It is true that highly developed countries are particularly plagued by pollution. However, it is not industry in itself that is to blame, but, rather, the wrong attitude displayed by many of the men who control it. They may be unwilling to spend money on developing antipollution devices or be hesitant about following antipollution policies.
This same wrong attitude—in short, a reluctance to exercise the “law of neighbor love”—accounts for the debris you see in some countries scattered along streets and highways or in other public places. Have you ever seen a stadium or a ball park after a sports event? Remember, individuals made it look that way.
So, in reality, pollution is a problem of the individual—a problem of his heart and his mind. It is the result of a mind polluted with false values and possible ignorance, and a heart polluted with selfishness, thoughtlessness and general unconcern about the welfare of others.
WHAT CAN WE AS INDIVIDUALS DO?
Everyone can discipline himself to put trash where it belongs. Adults who develop an appreciative eye for neatness and beauty will not need a law: “Thou shalt not litter!” Parents when teaching their children to value the same high standards might well keep in mind the fitting, although rather blunt, German proverb that reminds us that “even a little pig is still a swine.”
Driving less and avoiding letting car motors idle needlessly can cut down on air pollution. Even cigarettes left unsmoked help keep the air clean and unpolluted. True, our contribution may be small, but doing our share will promote a good conscience and enhance self-respect. And if everyone would really do his part, would keep the Biblical Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ just think how pleasant life on a beautiful earth could be! (Matt. 7:12) It would be like living in a beautiful, well-kept park.
Many persons sincerely believe that the earth’s Designer originally had the establishment of such a paradise earth in mind. They believe that he is still dedicated to bringing about this ideal situation, despite today’s pollution. This conviction has transformed their lives and given them a reason to respect cleanness and beauty, a reason to avoid polluting. As best they can, they are trying to fit into the Creator’s concept of a pollution-free world. True, they cannot eliminate pollution, but by carefully guarding their sense of values they can avoid contributing to making it worse. Still, this is only a partial solution.
WHAT IS NEEDED TO ELIMINATE POLLUTION?
If man is to eliminate pollution, his mind must be filled with accurate knowledge of the earth’s ecology, and his heart must be filled with the sincere desire to avoid polluting.
Scientists have obtained some of this necessary knowledge by investigating the ecological systems and balances that protect the earth’s environment. But much they have had to learn by trial and error. And there is still much more to learn. Would not the intelligent design found in these ecological systems prove the existence of an intelligent Designer? Certainly he would be most capable of providing man’s inquiring mind with the knowledge necessary to help him avoid inadvertently polluting. But even if man were to receive such knowledge, would he use it correctly? What about his heart?
We would rightfully expect man to be able to show from the heart such qualities as love, consideration and unselfishness. Why? Because Genesis 1:27 explains that “God proceeded to create the man in his image,” and God manifests these qualities. Wrong training, inherited imperfection and a wicked environment have prevented many persons from properly developing these divine qualities, yet the potential is still there. Proper education and training can bring these dormant qualities to the fore and eliminate pollution-making tendencies.
God is providing this kind of knowledge and training even today, helping willing persons to develop the proper set of values and attitudes necessary for life in a pollution-free world. People who believe that God is the earth’s rightful owner, and that man is simply its caretaker, will readily accept the knowledge and training he offers. Others will not. Can this situation ever be corrected?
WILL A FINAL SOLUTION EVER BE FOUND?
Would you permit unappreciative persons to turn your potentially beautiful parklike garden into a garbage dump? Of course not. So can you understand the Creator’s feeling of wrath toward persons doing that to his earth? Revelation 11:18 explains that this wrath will be expressed at God’s appointed time when he will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” Only by ridding the earth of unrepentant and incorrigible polluters can God make sure that the appropriate antipollution instructions he will give earth’s inhabitants in the future will be followed. The Bible shows that the time for this action by the agency of God’s kingdom is near.
By refusing to pollute or to support those who do, we can provide God with a basis for permitting us to live in his pollution-free world now so near. Would you not enjoy such a prospect?