I write this to address a few points in Homer Dodson’s response (11/16/12) to a letter written by Ita Hardesty Mason (11/9/12) regarding her reasons for opposition to the Keystone Pipeline. In reply to her statement, “what we have to protect is sacred…it’s called Earth…we know it as our home…” Mr. Dodson quotes several definitions of “sacred”. One of these definitions is: “Worthy of respect or dedication,” then seems to imply that considering the earth sacred is to deify and worship it.
Is not the Bible considered by the Judeo-Christian faith to be “sacred” text? Yet I doubt any believer would consider it a deity worthy of worship. Do not most all faiths consider human life to be sacred? Ask anyone who considers him/herself Pro-Life and I’m sure they would respond with an answer about the sanctity of human life. Again, I doubt that they view human life as a deity nor do they worship it. Having respect and reverence for, and dedication to the protection of the earth is not to deify it. The earth truly is our “mother earth”—created by God to sustain and nurture us just as our human mothers do. God created a marvelous planet with everything required to provide for our physical needs. The majesty and beauty of nature itself is in essence a fingerprint of the love of God.
Mr. Dodson further states that “We do have a dominion mandate to use the earth and to take care of it and I think competitive capitalism is the best way to do it…” It is evident that Mr. Dodson has a strong faith in God, but it appears that he also has much more faith in the higher, noble virtues of human nature than I do. Sadly, I think human nature is prone to greed and too often pursues its own selfish goals. I have no doubt that we in America live much more comfortable lives due to capitalistic enterprises. My concern is that too often unregulated capitalism is more concerned with high short-term profits and is frequently exercised without concern for the long-term effects of its actions. There is a tendency for unregulated capitalism to fail to see the “big picture.” I recently watched the Ken Burns documentary, “The Dust Bowl,” and draw from it a cautionary tale right out of our own American history.
Prior to the 1920s the vast midsection of our nation, the Great Plains, was a windy, semi-arid area covered with deep-rooted buffalo grass that held the scarce moisture in the soil. The area was generally considered unsuitable for farming and was used by the first European settlers in the area for ranching. Land deals brought homesteaders there in hopes of making a better life. Several years of above normal rainfall along with the high demand for wheat during the WWI years convinced them they had made a wise choice. They thrived, and so they plowed under more and more grassland to make more money. Eventually over 30 MILLION acres of grasslands were plowed under. Then the rains stopped, and the winds blew. In the following decade millions of acres of topsoil blew away in enormous dust storms that turned noon into midnight. What ensued is considered one of the worst—if not THE worst—man-made natural or ecological catastrophe in American history. These farmers were not evil nor necessarily greedy people—they were simply trying to provide a good life for their families. Their shortsighted perspective, and probably some degree of ignorance, led to this disaster. When the natural balance of nature is deeply upset, there are dire consequences. We only have to look back about 80 years in our own history to see this.
There is indeed money to be made by someone from the Keystone Pipeline, but where does one spend money on a dead planet?
Susan Parker King
Kingston Springs, TN