God is in the Details
The Torah teaches us to think globally and act locally.
Furthermore, there is a deep ecological way of thinking inherent in these passages. Today, even individuals with little environmental awareness realize the life-threatening changes that are occurring on a global level; yet few of us, as individuals, feel we are in a position to affect the wide scale changes needed to avoid such catastrophes. We are left to making donations to "green" organizations and supporting the appropriate politicians. What else can we do?
About twenty years ago, a small book was published that quickly became a national bestseller: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth (Earthworks Press, 1989). Subsequently, numerous similar books were written. All of them bear the same message--that our smallest actions can have universal repercussions, and that by becoming sensitive to even the smallest details of our lives, we can, as a whole, help rectify the world.
For example, the United States goes through approximately 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. These end up in garbage dumps and will never biodegrade. If just 25% of American homes used 10 fewer plastic bags a year, the country would save over 2.5 billion bags a year.
There are seven million copy machines in the United States today, producing approximately 400 billion photocopies a year. If each of these machines would print five fewer copies a day, it would save the equivalent of 1.4 million trees and keep more than 26 million cubic feet of paper out of landfills.
In the average home, the toilet accounts for 30-40% of water use. By placing even a small bottle place in the water tank, thousands of gallons can be saved annually.
If we are looking to perfect the world, the place to begin is the Mishkan of our own lives--our homes and workplaces. Early in its inception, the environmental movement coined the term: "Think globally, act locally." Meaning to say, while our eyes and hearts must always be on the larger picture, the repair of the world begins in locales closest to us, with the smallest details of our lives.
This is the preeminent Jewish way of thinking, which recognizes the importance of details in the redemption of the world. And it is a natural consequence of a Torah lifestyle that one learns to think on both of these levels simultaneously.
Suggested Action Items:
1. Do a Google search for the phrase: "Simple things to save the earth." You will be directed to numerous sites that provide easy ideas that can improve the world. Choose some and start implementing them.
2. Share your discoveries with others.
3. Try one of the simple actions suggested above to cut down on water use, paper use, and disposable bag consumption.
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