Celeste
One Fine Day in the Ministry

WALL-E and the Gulf Oil Spill

What's not to like about WALL-E? A trash compactor robot, WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class) spends his days compacting trash (what else?) with an eye on making the earth fit for rehabilitation. See, centuries ago, humans polluted the earth to the point of ruin, so they evacuated in massive spaceships. There, they loll about in such ease that their limbs have atrophied; they've become pretty much helpless, though good-natured, blobs. But before departure, they left robots to tidy up things, so they might eventually return. Only WALL-E remains on the job, for reasons I forget, and as you might imagine, he's lonely. All that changes when a pretty girl robot (EVE) show up. Robot sparks fly, they save the planet, fight off the bad robots, and pave the way for humans' return.

So if I liked the film, and Mrs Sheepandgoats liked it, which we both did, everyone must have liked it – right? But when Mrs. Sheepandgoats mentioned it to a co-worker, the latter lamented how sad the movie was. Sad? “What we're doing to the earth, what we're leaving behind for our children, is an absolute tragedy,” she said. Well...yes, the film would have that effect on many, wouldn't it? Look, we're sickened by the degradation humans inflict upon the earth, make no mistake, but, it's also true that when considering each new nail in the coffin, there is a tiny asterisk in the back of our mind that says “God's Kingdom will solve human mismanagement once and for all.” His “bringing to ruin those ruining the earth” is even foretold. (Rev 11:18) So it's always there, that asterisk, cushioning every blow. If you didn't have it....wow...no wonder some are just crushed by what's happening


Now, this verbal exchange was well before the gulf oil-spill, that mother of all environmental catastrophes.  “How to clean up the mess? And who's at blame!” declared Time Magazine's cover of June 21, 2010,  against a backdrop of oil-soaked pelicans. (I was mildly surprised that the questions were not posed in reverse order) Time listed a “dirty dozen” which included the prior President, of course, and his Secretary of State, but also the current President and some of his underlings. A handful of oilmen, needless to say, and one or two indulgent regulators. Even the ubiquitous American driver, since he fuels demand for oil in the first place. Got it? We're all to blame. There are no good guys in white hats, only bad guys in black, oily ones.

And to think I was upbraided just a few weeks ago, along with all my people, for not picking up the roadside trash. “Enough Jehovah's Witness preaching, already!” scolded my interlocutor, “what good is that? Do something useful, instead,” said he, and then proceeded to wax poetic on how he and his entire family took part in a local park clean-up, picking up crud that other slobs had tossed here, there, and everywhere. Look, I'm not against cleanup days, but how silly to imagine that, by thus taking part, we're saving the planet, when, in one dastardly swoop, the entire gulf can be ruined by one big-industry blunder. In fact, reports have it that local picker-uppers are showing up on the coast only to be told to get lost – this is a job for pros!

No, I won't stand for it – to be told preaching is valueless and community cleanup days are the path to salvation. And don't mistake that statement as unconcern for the environment! When the kids were little and we hiked trails at Allegheny State Park, we'd take trash bags with us and make a treasure hunt out of it, collecting beer and pop cans along the way – some had been there for years. (there were even some of the ancient tin types, cans that had been opened, not with pop-tops, but with can openers such as I remember from when I was a kid – extra points awarded for such finds!) And heaven help you if you are the pig dumping fast food trash out the car window and Mrs. Sheepandgoats is driving behind you! Steam comes from her ears. She all but rams your bumper and slaps you in handcuffs, hauling you to the sheriff in citizens' arrest.

One fellow is griping here about Jehovah's Witnesses: "They don’t even need to recycle if they don’t want to." What kind of an accusation is that? Are there groups that maintain their people MUST recycle, whether they want to or not? Where recycling is the law of the land/community, JW compliance is higher than most, I've no doubt, since they are well-known to be law-abiding. Where it is not the law of the land, likely JW compliance is still higher than most, out of respect for the planet. Look, when financially secure, trendy neighborhoods take up recycling as their special cause, I admit, they may outdo the average Witness. But we surely shine when compared to the population in general. I attended a wine festival over the weekend. Each vendor offered samples of wine, cheese, candy, sauce, whatever, in one-use plastic cups, or plates, or skewering toothpicks. Were they recycled? I doubt it. All trash was mixed together. In the medical field, everything is one-use only, disposable, in the interests of sanitation. Nothing is washed. Nothing is reused. Again, all trash is mixed together. I once worked part-time for a retail inventory firm, reputed to be the country's largest consumer of AAA batteries. Do you imagine those batteries were recycled? When I asked about it, they laughed at me. In the trash they'd go....each and every one of them. 

Look, I'm all for local clean-up-the-park days. Same with clean-up-the-roadside days. None of Jehovah's Witnesses will ever speak against such things, unless you count observations that such are, at best, a stop-gap measure, and that the lasting solution will come only when God carries out his promise to “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” We tend to use our free time to highlight this latter solution, the one that, in the end, counts. My experience is that it's only the tiniest sliver of the population who take part in such cleanups, anyway – it's not as if JWs are thwarting the whole effort. And surely it must count for something that Jehovah's Witnesses aren't among those who caused the mess in the first place.

“This [JW belief that God's Kingdom only can permanently solve earth's environmental woes] leads to the undeniable fact that Witnesses take almost no initiative towards making the world we live in a better place in any way:” someone tries to sell me that line. Hogwash! Not to oversimplify, but if the entire population were Witnesses, there would be no need for efforts to make the world we live in a better place. This, because of the traits which are instilled into each Witness. Law-abiding to the core, honest, working, not abusing government services, not contributing to the criminal element freely operating in most lands, promoting stable, monogamous families – all this by virtue of making Bible principles a way of life. Thus, merely propagating Witness beliefs is a step toward making the world a better place.

Meanwhile, I had to go to Canada (the Globe and Mail, June 19th) to discover that at least half of the leaked gulf oil is being recovered through various means, such as salvage ships that corral surface oil and burn it. It really is true that the U.S. media ignores even qualified good news, preferring to focus only the overwhelming devastation itself, along with who is to blame, and delighting in the President's declaration that he's looking for “asses to kick,” even while insinuating that his own “ass” might be among them, that the oil spill is his Katrina, and so forth. Sigh....that's what we're good at here: kicking asses.

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Tom Irregardless and Me              No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Comments

Nate

I think the criticism here (and this is true of most religions) is that if God is going to fix everything anyway then there’s really not much of an incentive for planetary maintenance. Now granted most religions, at least anymore, pay at least lip service to “environmental causes” and certainly don’t want to go around trashing the planet just for the sake of it. However there remains that asterisk you talk about, ultimately what ever man doesn’t get around to God will make for, so don’t strain yourself, at lest that’s how some people take it. I think the criticism of much of western religion in regards to the environment is it just seems to many of a more secular bent that believers just aren’t as invested in these issues the are, that the don’t understand the true potential cost and thusly only contribute to the problem. However you are right to point out that many faithful do do what they can for the environment, and many who like to criticize them probably don’t do much at all.

Screech

I like the points that you raised. While people in general are looking for tangible ways to clean up and prevent such disasters, the intangible sources (people's hearts and attitudes) are ignored. You can't legislate and enforce an attitude of caring about things. Teaching others about God's Kingdom brings about responsible people who want a permament solution to these problems. Mankind DOES NOT have the answer.

I think WALL-E is a great movie too, BTW. My 6 year-old son enjoys the movie very much. I like how the message is against an attitude instead of specific actions. Change the attitude, and the actions will follow. When the characters in WALL-E realize what they are missing in their lives, they work hard to bring it back and to inculcate it into their own lives and that of their children. What religious work does this parallel?

tom sheepandgoats

Nate:

I'll go along with all you've said. It's fair. And will only add that, as a practical matter, no one group or person can do everything. If cancer research is your cause, and you're pushing for it with all your might, what about autism? Don't you care about that? So JWs, like everyone else, pick and choose their cause, and we focus on the one that seems to offer the most comprehensive and permanent benefit. It's an entirely reasonable approach and will only trigger criticism only from those who don't like our particular cause. Screech's first paragraph explains well why we focus on the cause that we do.

ChrisL

These matters always seem to lead back to what happened in the Garden of Eden, where the choice was: God's way, or man's way? Ever since that first disaster of a decision, mankind has had to make that choice over and over again--always with predictable results, either long- or short-term.

JWs recognize this simple fact, and it guides our decisions in matters large and small. We ask ourselves: what is Jehovah's solution to a given problem or situation, and are we working for it or against it? Are we making the same mistake Adam and Eve made yet again, or are we showing godly wisdom and following the lead of our Grand Creator?

Anyone who studies the Bible will get a clear understanding of God's solution for the present condition of the earth's environment. Tom pointed it out above. The next step is working in harmony with that solution, and also telling others about it. It is the only way to succeed in the long run. Otherwise, we would be rejecting God's solution and trying to substitute our own. What would that say about our respect for Him? It'd be Adam and Eve all over again!

Of course, Christians must do their best to avoid adding to the problem but we recognize that mankind as a whole will not stop "ruining the earth" until God steps in. So as faithful Christians, our time and resources rightly belong to God and His solution, not man's.

Screech

Very well put ChrisL. I can only add that the Bible has many instances where, from the perspective of mankind, his people were acting counter to their own interests. Just when it seems that they made the wrong choice, that is when Jehovah has always stepped in. He promises to do so again. The entire world will seem to be falling apart, and I'm sure we will appear to be acting against our own interests, but as soon as a serious move is made against God's people, Jehovah will have His son, Jesus, step in and then we have Armageddon.

Screech

Just got an interesting article in my local newspaper, the Arizona Republic, June 30 edition.

It brought out that, when the total annual oil pollution is calculated (unrecycled motor oil, spilled fuel, oil from streets leaking into storm drains) that the USA far exceeds the amount of oil spilled than the highest estimates of the Gulf Oil Spill.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/06/30/20100630gulf-spill-cant-rival-oil-seepage-from-cities.html

Jay

Just read that mercury poisoning and or vitamin D defiency are linked with the onset of Alzheimers.

Stop over and check out my JW news site at http://jwitness.wordpress.com

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