Queries on Unity with Nature
The scope and immediacy of the current threat to life on earth have led some Friends to call for the formulation of a clear Quaker testimony on our relationship with the natural world, and for the dissemination of such a testimony with the vigor that has marked Quaker testimonies such as those on Peace and Slavery. The following queries were prepared as a way of helping to develop such a testimony, to examine our spiritual relationship with the natural world, and to explore the implications of living our lives centered in such a relationship.
Am I walking gently on the Earth?
- Do I live simply, mindful how my life affects the earth and her resources?
- Do I honor the life of all living things, the order of nature, the wildness of wilderness, the richness of the created world?
- Do I seek the holiness which God has placed in these things, and the measure of Light which God has lent them?
- Do I extend the Quaker practice of answering that of God in every person to answering that of God in all creation?
- Do I hold in the Light my own and other spiritual traditions to discover the ways they foster a cooperative relationship with the natural world?
- What am I doing to teach others, including children and members of my community, to cherish each strand of the intricate web of life?
- What actions am I taking to reverse the destruction of the earth's ecosystems, and to promote her healing?
- How does my relationship to the local and global environment exemplify my attunement to and appreciation of the essential oneness of all creation.
- Do I accept personal responsibility for stewardship of creation?
- Do I recognize that the preparation for and the conduct of war are among the greatest causes of environmental degradation?
Does my daily life exemplify and reflect my respect for the oneness of creation and my care for the environment?
- Am I willing to consume less myself in order to promote rightful sharing of the world's limited resources in a manner that reduces environmental degradation?
- Am I prepared to give up products, services and conveniences, even those I may consider as necessities, in order to help preserve life on earth?
- Do I apply honesty to my environmental relationships, accepting fully the truths that:
- There is no "away" when I throw anything away.
- The human species is a co-member of the global community.
- The material elements of the earth are finite and not inexhaustible.
- As I consume material goods am I mindful of the extent to which I consume the earth's resources?
- Do I reciprocate by nurturing the earth's resources and giving back to the earth?
- Am I aware of what happens to the waste products that I generate?
- Do I support the regeneration of the earth by the practice of composting?
- Do I dispose of that waste in ways that are regenerative, or at least that do no harm?
- Am I careful to avoid spending and investing money in ways that result in others doing things to the world that I would not do myself?
- If I own land, do I respect the heritage of the land, exercising sound stewardship over its natural resources, so that they are maintained not just for my use, but for future generations?
- If a farmer or a forester, do I seek to conserve and care for the soil, the water and the wildlife habitat, so that my actions replenish, rather than deplete the land I work with?
- In my work, do I integrate a concern for the environment into my goals and actions, seeking ways to share with others the values and importance of environmental concerns?
- Do I seek to avoid destruction of the environment by conserving energy and relying on renewable forms of energy?
- Am I mindful of the extent to which the rapidly increasing number of people on the earth contributes to environmental degradation?
- Do I accept responsibility for supporting efforts to slow population growth?
How do we respond as Friends?
- As friends, do we plan and carry out activities such as camping, hiking, bicycling, and picnics for young Friends to develop their understanding of the environment and their appreciation of the value and beauty of wildlife in its natural surroundings of woods, fields, streams, and hills?
- Do we examine and appreciate cultures and communities whose lives are based on close harmony with the natural world?
- Do we inform friends about legislative issues related to clean water, clean air, soil erosion, acid rain, deforestation, protection of wilderness, parks and forests, and nuclear, toxic and household waste disposal?
- As friends, do we communicate our concerns on these matters to local, state and federal legislators?
- Are friends aware of, and working with, other individuals and groups who share our concern and commitment to unity with nature?
- As friends, are we actively involved in substantial efforts to recycle glass, paper and other reusable materials, and in the preservation or enhancement of our local natural environment, including local streams and open spaces?
- As friends, do we use recyclable and biodegradable materials as much as possible?