I love Texas. I will, however, admit that it took me a while to get to that point. Texas grows on you, which is saying a lot when you take a look at my lawn this time of year.
I took a teaching job here in 1998 and moved here with my family from Idaho. My wife was happy to leave snow far behind us and welcome (relatively) warm winters. Of course, we moved here in June, and it was 105 degrees at 10 p.m. the night we arrived. So the change in climate was pretty much the first difference we noticed.
The second difference was a change in attitude about the environment. Coming from the Northwest, we had gotten used to recycling, not littering, and being careful about pollution. Despite the slogan “Don’t Mess With Texas,” I haven’t gotten the same attitude here. I couldn’t hardly believe it when I saw the car on the road in front of us roll down their window and dump a bag of litter onto the side of the road. Do that in Oregon and you are likely to be shot.
Here’s where it hits close to home. I teach at Southwestern Adventist University, a place you’d expect to see recycling bins, work bees to pick up trash along the road, and rallies to recycle oil and other toxic liquids. In 12 years, I haven’t seen any of those things. Why?
Further, this is a Christian school. I have always associated caring about the world we live in with Genesis 2:15 where it talks about God putting Adam in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. I figured we have an obligation not only to our children, but to God, to take care of the only home we have in this lifetime.
But maybe my mistake was making that association. Maybe it falls into the same category as assuming all good Christians are Republicans, or all Adventists are vegetarians. It would be nice, but it just doesn’t work out that way.
I’ve been thinking about what this issue for years. I’ve meant to speak up for a long time. And, to be honest, the reason why I haven’t is because of something I learned long ago about committees. Never bring up a problem in committee unless you have a solution and you are willing to work on fixing the problem.
Well, I’m willing to work on fixing the problem. But I think the issue is bigger than one person.
How about it? Is there anyone else out there that thinks we need to be doing more at Southwestern–and in the state of Texas–about the environment? Maybe the old saying is true. Maybe together we really can make a difference.