A few years ago, while helping my grandfather plant pecan trees in Tennessee, I realized something a bit disturbing. My grandfather never would live long enough to see those trees mature and produce pecans. Yet, there he was, toiling away with no possibility of personal benefit. When I asked him why he would plant trees knowing he would never enjoy the harvest, he just smiled and shook his head. Then he said, “Son, of all the pecans I’ve eaten in my life, someone else had planted the tree. They thought enough of me to plant trees, so I could have pecans. I’m just thinking of the next generation.” In that moment, I realized that all people are takers, but only a few people become givers.
Being a taker comes naturally. From the moment a baby is born, it takes. It wants food and warmth and comfort. If no one fulfills the baby’s desire, it screams until it gets whatever it wants. Becoming a giver in life takes time and instruction. We must be taught to share. We must learn to give. Unfortunately, most people never learn to really give. They give, but they expect something in return. They are still selfish. A selfish child becomes a selfish teenager who becomes a selfish adult. If a person has never developed a lifestyle of giving by their teen years, I doubt they ever will. A college degree or a high-paying job can change their income but not their heart.
Through my teen years, I volunteered at least two days a week at The Master’s Outreach in my hometown. The Master’s Outreach is a non-profit organization, which helps feed and clothe the needy. We even went to Central America once to take clothes, food, medicine, and other supplies. On other occasions, we sent supplies to help hurricane victims. Each one of these projects required a lot of time and effort by a few people willing to give.
By now, volunteer work has become part of my life. I intend to continue giving during my college career at Jones Community College and then, Mississippi State University where I will pursue a degree in architecture. With a college degree, I will have even more opportunities to serve my community. As an architect, I would like to become involved with Habitat for Humanity because they have such a good reputation and will be able to use my particular skills.
Will the Environment Heal Itself?
Will the Environment Heal Itself?
The environment will heal itself, all right, but humans should worry how. The population explosion is causing damage at a faster rate than the earth’s ability to recover, and the damage threatens to become permanent. Furthermore, when an expanding population meets shrinking resources, the results are starvation, poorer health and pitched competition for survival. Among other resources, the world has reached its limit in crop harvests, and is declining in animal species, rain forests, top soil, fish stocks, and fresh water.
There are two types of damage that humans cause to the environment. One is long-term, even permanent destruction, such as the extinction of a species or the radioactive poisoning of Chernobyl.
The second is short-term damage — and this is where conservatives latch onto false hope. It is true that the environment has the capacity to heal itself in some ways. Endangered species can rebound, the earth can create its own ozone, the oceans can absorb greenhouse gases. The rate of recovery depends on the type of damage being done. Species can recover in a few decades; ozone, a century; old growth forests, several centuries; the cooling of radioactive waste, hundreds of thousands of years. But here is a critical point: the environment cannot recover while we are still increasing the damage to it. In many areas, humans are destroying the environment faster than it can recover, as the following statistics will show. And if we continue in our current ways, the damage will inevitably become permanent.
In surveying statistics on the environment, it is important to keep two opposing trends in mind. One is the population explosion:
… middle of paper …
…D.C., private communication with Lester Brown, April 27, 1992; pork data from Leland Southard, Livestock and Poultry Situation and Outlook staff, ERS, USDA, Washington, D.C., private communication with Lester Brown, April 27, 1992; poultry ratio derived from data in Richard V. Bishop et al., The World Poultry Market – Government Intervention and Multilateral Policy Reform (Washington, D.C., USDA, 1990).
14. Rush Limbaugh, See, I Told You So (New York: Simon