Common Era Antics

Ecology Matters by Duke Vasey

Ecological issues are at the heart of my life. First, ecological issues are central to my work as a soil and water conservation district supervisor, and second, they touch on the heart of the Christian faith I profess.

My focus is on land stewardship--care of the Earth and particularly of the fertile soil—those who inform my thinking are farmers, soil scientists, plant geneticists and local ecologists who understand the connection between human beings and land. People whose minds are mostly on the dirt make me aware of a dimension of the things my grandparents focused upon as Wisconsin farmers.

Earth, taught during my early school years from Hebrew Scripture, is land-centered. Ancient Israelite were an agrarian people, occupying an ecological niche that they knew to be extremely fragile and recognized that the health and productivity of the soil is the first and best index of health, good or ill.

The significance of soil starts in the Garden of Eden. The first task with which the humans are charged is "…to work and to keep it…." (Genesis 3:15). That might also be translated, "to serve and to preserve it." The word "serve" suggests that the fertile soil retains a kind of priority. But, you say, “The Bible is not an environmental tract! Of course; the ancients did not experience ecological destruction on a global scale and I do not believe that the biblical writers mystically foresaw our present crisis.

Nonetheless, I hope that the reorganization of South Florida Water Management District is not just one more sign that blindness and short-term self-interest will deny residents of Big Cypress Basin their right to "…have length of days on the fertile soil…." (Deuteronomy 11:9), on which life depends, without draining our tax dollars for salaries.


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