Hollace, Chai Hoi Lam
Global Mission Fellow of Harris Memorial College
There is a saying in Chinese, “billions of droplets form an ocean.” We are often unaware of how a large scenario is actually made up of petty things that we rarely pay attention to. Ironically, when we were standing on the freedom island, we did not see any hint of freedom, but the excessive exploitation of freedom to the land. It was full of trash of packages of product brands like Ariel, Kettle Popcorn, Happy Peanuts, Magic Sarap, etc. Indeed, it is always easy to just throw away, it’s so effortless. We never realize that when nature strikes back, it may cost our very own lives.
Harris Memorial College recognizes that fact. So, last June 6, 2015, the faculty, staff, and college students participated in the Family Coastal Clean-Up Day at the Freedom Island, a critical habitat and eco-tourism area in Las Piñas, Paranaque. This was organized by the United Methodist Church of the Philippines Annual Conference. The garbage in the Freedom Island was mainly washed up to the coast from the Manila Bay. During our cleaning, under the heat of the sun, we tried our best to clear the area of plastics, rubber and Styrofoam – the three most insoluble materials that seriously harm the seashore environment. But what really astonished us were the layers of trash that had accumulated underneath. The more we tried to clear the top layers, the more we found trashes at the bottom. We felt that our work would never get done!
The concept of ‘rights’ is always contingent to the concept of ‘responsibility.’ Having the rights as a consumer entails awareness of the origin of our consumption, as well as the disposal of it. Any irresponsible action connotes the desire of immediate and present gratification without consideration of the past and future. It is the same as irresponsible sex, irresponsible mining and irresponsible governance. By just being concerned of satisfying the present need and neglecting all the costs involved, the sustainability, chain effects, and ethical principles are detrimental to any form of development.
Being self-centered is the same as ignoring the integral parts of fellow human beings and our environment, while purposively or blindly exploiting other beings to further our prompt desires, or practice the alleged ‘freedom’. Thus, being a steward of this earth as we were commanded by the Lord means responsible behaviors amidst utilization. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Sometimes we read it wrongly as “to make it work and take advantage of it.” God promises us that when we work, we would have the fruit of our work. If we do not work it out and take care of it, the fruit would be unbearable to us all eventually.
The Coastal Clean-Up is a just short activity, but surely it must be a life-time campaign. Even if we clean up once, more and more layers will top up if our irresponsible exploitation continues. So, let us follow the first command the Lord has commanded to us since the beginning, and together build and treasure His Garden that will benefit future generations.