By: Scot Martin
Love is not the only thing, but it’s the best thing. –Mark Heard
I was asked to craft a sort-of presuppositional response to my previous blog entry about defending your neighborhood.
I went through three drafts before I finally narrowed it down to a clear and concrete reason: love.
Sure, you can get all dewy-eyed about ecological problems and vent splenetically on your favorite social media channel because that’s hip and trendy (and marketable too!).
You can also calmly explain why the pragmatic position is not to shit in your nest—nor foul the air, leach the nutrients and microorganisms in the soil, or algalfy (is that even a word?) the water. We have a responsibility to leave something usable (and beautiful as well) for those yet to be born, don’t we?
All well and good—perhaps not the trendy and marketable part—but to quote from the Apostle formerly known as Saul of Tarsus:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is what is going to motivate you to care for “the least of these” whether they be plant or animal (or even some at-risk humans). Anyone can hold up a sign protesting the death of charismatic megafauna in Africa (or the Facebook equivalent), it’s especially easy if your children or livestock aren’t at risk in the night, but who is going to care if the numbers of Eastern American toads in your town decline? How many will be concerned about the glossy buckthorn crowding out native understory plants in the park two blocks from your house?
Love cares about the big picture as well as the weakest, most insignificant individual.
When I talk about love, I’m not talking about the latest insipid pop song or emotion, I’m talking about action.
Love gets its hands dirty, supports the unpopular causes, and isn’t concerned with notoriety.
Love withstands the mosquito bites and the poison ivy rash, the scratches and cuts from brambles and branches, the complaints from people who don’t understand restoration ecology, and did I mention ignoring the sweat?
I don’t know what you love or your motivation, but here’s mine:
I want my children and their children and many generations after to inherit a world of wonder and beauty. I want my Lord to return to a world that resembles his original intention for it. I want a world where people work with nature rather than against.
The dirt under my fingernails? The effort involved in learning about unfamiliar creatures? That is love in action.
Scot Martin was a high school and middle school teacher for over 15 years. He currently works in the construction industry and is a freelance copywriter. He is also a master naturalist, maintains a blog about ecology, and fights incessantly against invasive plant species in SE Michigan. When he’s not calling screech owls or chasing damselflies he spends time reading, shooting things with his camera, or causing his wife and two children to roll their eyes.
Previously published on STAND Magazine