Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

What's more important, people or nature?

What is more important, people or nature? It's a question that comes up surprisingly often when people find out that I am a person who expresses faith in Jesus and a desire to live into community with all that has life.

It is my conviction that with God all things are possible. What this means is that the question of the relative importance of people verses other living beings has no place in my interpretation of life.

I don't blame those who feel that they have to choose between human life or other life; we have all been culturally conditioned to think that way.

            Nature writer Aldo Leopold bridges the gap between humans and other life forms in what he calls “the Land Ethic.”  In his Land Ethic he presents us with a way of seeing ourselves not as separate from, rather as part of the natural world.  In his book, A Sand County Almanac, he writes the following:

“A land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such…that man is in fact, only a member of a biotic team is shown by an ecological interpretation of history.” (240)  

            I agree with Leopold in the sense that humans are members of a biotic team; we must live off of the land just like any other life form and when we die the materials that make up our bodies gets decomposed and recycled the same as a bird or a tree. I think that we are members of that biotic team and also that we are more than that.  It is my understanding that we should accept that we are part of this global biotic community on planet earth and also acknowledge that we have a unique responsibility as its members.  

The truth is that the dichotomy which we create between the human world and the natural world is an illusion. 

My interpretation of the teaching of Jesus in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John suggests that as I live into community with all that has life I should relate to all that has life with the same spirit of humility, service, and love that Jesus modeled.

If Jesus really was God in the flesh; why didn't he ever ask his disciples the question, "who is more important, you or me?" To him the question would have been irrelevant.  He simply gave himself in love and service to others, always expanding the bounds of community to include in his circle people who were despised, rejected, and forgotten. It is my vocation to follow his example for the sake of all that has life. I know that I'm not alone but very much a part of a global community of people rooted in relationship with God and committed to living into community with all that has life.

What's more important, people or nature? The question itself is misguiding.

To me, the question to ask is, "Is God big enough and strong enough to help us human beings live into community with other people AND everything else that has life?

In my experience, the answer to that question is a resounding YES.

While I remain fully convicted in what I have just shared, I do acknowledge that this is one imperfect person's interpretation on the intersection of faith and life. Always learning. Always growing. Always open to understanding the interpretations of others in a receptive and non-judgmental spirit.

Until next time...


  1. " Always learning. Always growing. Always open to understanding the interpretations of others in a receptive and non-judgmental spirit." I try to catch myself, to stay positive and open in every situation and conversation. Thank you for being true to your words and being someone I can always think about to try to be more alike.
    -Brother Mitch