Good Friday morning ...
I was raised in a "green" household.
No, my childhood home was not green. It was actually white, a six-room, one story farmhouse where the Engel clan of nine shared life.
But by today’s standards my household was "green." Today "green" has come to mean all that relates to preserving/saving our environment. There are "green deals" and the "green new deal." There is the Greenpeace movement and the Greenwise line of food products and everything organic. There is a renewed emphasis on green space and "greening" the planet.
I must have been born before my time because I was raised in a "green" household.
When my mother went downtown to the A & P (The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company) to grocery shop, whatever she bought was put into brown paper bags. Those bags were not thrown away but were used for a multitude of purposes, primarily covering school textbooks, mailing packages and as garbage can liners. There was no plastic.
If you had fresh milk, it was likely delivered in glass bottles which you washed out and returned for further use. There were no plastic jugs. Our milk came directly from our cow, unpasteurized, without additives, but strained through a cheese cloth and placed in gallon glass jars, then refrigerated. Our butter was churned at home; our cottage cheese was homemade; our cream was skimmed from the top of settled fresh milk. There were no preservatives.
On the rare occasion when you had a soft drink, it was in a glass bottle which you returned for reuse to regain your two-cent deposit. There were no plastic bottles.
When we needed vegetables for a meal, in the summertime it came fresh, directly from our garden (from garden to table). In the winter, it came from either the freezer or the pump house where we stored canned vegetables and fruits in glass mason jars all of which came from our garden. Our red meat came from our own farm which we butchered, cut and wrapped in freezer paper. Our chicken came directly from the coop to the table, as fresh as fresh can be (not always as tender, but always fresh!). No preservatives; no additives; no processing.
On wash day, my mother hung our clothes out on a clothesline. We did not have a dryer. It was au naturel. There were no Pampers for infants; it was cotton cloth diapers all the way every day! We had no dish washer, microwave, blender or coffee maker. When my mother made cakes, pies, biscuits, homemade noodles, dumplings or whatever, she used her stirring power with a whisk, spoon or spatula. We had no mixer, no Kitchen Aid, no Cuisinart; no appliance garage.
In my childhood home we had no air conditioning, not even central heat. We did have a gas-fired floor furnace that heated one room, but only after we modernized from a free-standing coal stove. When we went places, we traveled in a station wagon as a one-car family. Parents did not drop us off at school; we rode the bus. We did not drive short distances. There were no frivolous trips to the mall since there were no malls, no Starbucks, no drive-thru fast food.
About 1952 or so we got a black and white TV. Before that we sat and listened to radio programs on Sunday nights. We had a single black rotary phone on a party-line with four other families who, if they were sneaky about it, could listen in on your conversations or vice versa. Computers, iPads, iPods, cell phones or other electronic equipment were unheard of.
So, you can see, I was raised in a "green" household. We used very little fossil fuels; we used no plastic bags, containers or bottles; we consumed very little electricity; we left a very small carbon footprint. It was rather "green."
And yet somehow today, I am one of those blamed for ruining the planet, so much so that in some minds we have only twelve years left. Somehow, I am the cause of making life unbearable difficult for children of today to go on. Somehow it was my generation that destroyed earth's environment and the only people who care about fixing it are the so-called "greens."
"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words" says climate activist sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg. She and others blame my generation for not paying attention to the science behind the climate crisis telling world leaders at the United Nations, "We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth - how dare you! Shame on you!"
I actually enjoyed my "green" childhood and wouldn't mind going back to it in many ways. I doubt, however, that many of today’s Millennials and others who accuse us of destroying the planet would care to live as simple a life as we lived then without their electricity-consuming gadgets, fossil fuel-eating transportation, plastic-using culture, and convenience-orientated lifestyles.
Perhaps I have more confidence in our scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs and businessmen than the younger generation ... but I still have hopes and dreams for the future of this world. How else could I go on thinking that what I leave behind is going to destroy my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Mistakes have been made, as they have throughout all of human history, and mankind has, more often than not, risen to overcome those mistakes and to go on and make adjustments.
I lived through the time when the world was going to go up in flames from the atomic bomb. Public buildings hosted signs identifying shelters in case of a bomb attack. People were building underground, personal bomb shelters equipping them with food rations and bottled water. It was a scary time; doomsday theorists raged every day on the evening news. The end of the world was imminent. We were not going to survive. But we did and we live on ... still threatened by war (until the end of time as we find in Scripture) ... but better off and far more advanced than could have been imagined when I was growing up in my "green' household of yesteryear. I am not one to believe that our nation's very success is going to kill us.
In the end, WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for our treatment of the earth. All of mankind is given that responsibility by God Himself. "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'" [Genesis 1:26] "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." [Genesis 2:15]
Rather than blame and shame, we ought to celebrate and enjoy life in the greatest nation on earth, thankful to God for the blessings we have and sharing, not only our blessings, but the Good News of salvation that He has given to the entire world. We know that one day IT WILL ALL BE OVER. The end will come in God's time and we have the Good News to share with everyone who will listen about how to leave this world and enter the next.
May God bless us as we share that Good News and as we care for and enjoy His creation ...