Living Responsibly

Social justice. Healthy lifestyles. Environmental stewardship. Sometimes it’s awfully hard to pull it all together….

My phone alarm chirps, waking me from dreams of tropical beaches complete with coconut palms, perfect waves, and a bathing suit figure. It’s morning, six o’clock. Time to get out of bed and start another day of responsible living.

I reach over to turn off the electric blanket. Yes, it’s electric. Is that environmentally correct? It uses electricity, and we’re trying to conserve. Yet, we’re able to keep the house cooler, turning the heat off at night even in the middle of winter. Surely that saves more energy than my blanket uses.

Dragging myself out of bed, I stumble towards the shower. The water feels wonderful, but I don’t want to take too long—that hot water is a precious, limited resource. I reach for the soap and shampoo. Wait—were they tested on animals? I’d better read the label. Should I use a disposable razor? All that plastic will end up in the landfill. Maybe I should just opt for hairy legs.

I turn off the water and step out of the shower to towel off. I love our new, thirsty towels, but I forgot to check before buying them—were they made from organic cotton sustainably grown?

OK, time to get dressed. What should I wear today? I grab my favorite shirt and jeans. As I pull them on, I ask myself, “Where were they made? Was slave or child labor involved?” I’d hate to think my clothes were made in a sweatshop, but how can I tell when I find that great outfit on the sale rack? I guess I need to study up before the next time I head for the stores. Then, as I reach for the blow dryer, I wonder if my next hair style should be one that dries by itself. No sense using electricity if I can avoid it.

Sticking my feet into my bunny slippers, I head for the kitchen and a nice hot cup of tea. Then I stop, alarmed. Did the tea plantation workers receive just wages? Again, how can I tell? I peruse the packaging, looking for the Fair Trade logo, but it isn’t there. I write “fair trade tea” on the shopping list stuck to the fridge. (Of course, I’ll wait until I have a substantial list of errands to run before heading into town, to conserve gas and reduce emissions.)

Since I’ve already made the purchase, I go ahead and drink the tea that I have. Now, how about some scrambled eggs and toast? I crack a couple of eggs into the bowl, feeling smug. These eggs came from our very own hens, who live a luxurious existence in a safe, roomy shed and outdoor fenced yard. (I considered giving up our chickens, since I can easily buy “cage free” or “free range” eggs, but was stunned when a bit of research turned up what those terms actually mean to the poultry industry.)

I take my organic, high fiber, sugar-free bread out of its plastic bag (I will recycle the bag when it’s empty), stick it into the toaster and start it toasting. Meanwhile, I heat my nonstick pan (I’m trading excessive fat consumption for possibly toxic fumes from the nonstick coating) and pour in the eggs. Turning down the gas burner (should I be using electricity?), I gently stir them as they cook.

The toast pops, and I dab it with a “butter” spread low in saturated fats. That also came in a plastic tub. I could use real butter, which comes in a renewable wrapping of cardboard and paper, but then I’d have to consider the impact of dairy farming on the environment, hormone use in cows, and humane treatment of domestic animals in general. Instead, I recycle the plastic and ignore the ramifications of possible genetic modifications in the soy used to produce my spread.

Sitting down with my breakfast, I wonder if I should have opted for oatmeal instead. Oat bran is very good for me, while the eggs contain cholesterol, which raises my risk of heart disease. But the protein in the eggs balances the carbs in the toast that would otherwise spike my blood sugar, increasing the chance I’ll develop diabetes. And diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease.

Breakfast over, I load the dishes into the dishwasher, making sure that I fill it completely before turning it on. I use the short cycle (skipping the pre-rinse that uses more water), and set it to air dry.

Glancing at the clock, I see that I still have a few minutes before I need to be at work. Refilling the tea mug and grabbing my Bible, I sit down for some one-on-one time with God. I know God has cares about justice. Here are just a few of the more than 140 references I’ve found so far:

  • Deuteronomy 16:20Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.
  • Psalm 106:3Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.
  • Isaiah 56:1This is what the Lord says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.”
  • Micah 6:8He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

God cares about healthy lifestyles too. A great many of the dietary laws in the Old Testament there for health reasons. So were the rules about dealing with contagious diseases. Jesus healed many people during his earthly ministry, and healings continue in His name even today. While we shouldn’t elevate our health to the status of an idol, we should be good stewards of the bodies God has gifted us with. He likewise cares about the animals, and we should treat them humanely (see Exodus 23:12, Psalm 104, and Proverbs 12:10).

We need to consider the environment as well. God placed mankind in authority over the earth; He expects us to take care of it, not destroy it. Yes, someday it’s all going to burn, but in the meantime, we have the responsibility to be good custodians.

As I meditate on God’s word, it’s easy to feel guilty. I’m trying to obey these verses. I really am. It’s just that life is so complicated, everything I do seems to have unintended consequences. It’s overwhelming. I could spend every hour of every day trying to get it right, and still fall far short. Some days it seems like a huge burden.

How about you? What do you do with all the (often conflicting) information we’re daily bombarded with, regarding what’s just, what’s healthy, and what’s environmentally responsible?

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One thought on “Living Responsibly

  1. Hi Leslie! I hope you don’t really think that much in the morning! It’s important to be thankful and careful/responsible but if we spend the day seeing everything that we do that needs a big question mark behind it…. man oh man… I think I would stop doing much of anything after half a day! 🙂 I’m glad Jesus shows us things gently and helps us find a new way to go about living!

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