Time to tell ourselves a new story about the environment

Our survival depends on a new story

When it comes to the environment, it appears more and more obvious that we need new ways of doing familiar things. The behaviors and habits that have gotten us to where we are will not sustain us for where we want to be. Making things different, however doesn’t begin at the level of behavioral change. It starts with telling ourselves a different story about the environment.

Two of the big narratives that have commanded most conversations about the environment up to this point are the ideas that things that affect the environment are largely out of our reach. Our planet is in need of systemic change that seems nearly impossible at an individual level. This belief that it doesn’t really matter has stifled a lot of potential help for our planet.

The other big story that needs to shift about the environment is that it’s a lost cause. Many people have responded to things like our climate crisis or deforestation with a sense of learned helplessness. One thing often missing from the picture is hope.

Of course, these two pervasive narratives are deeply related to each other. It’s hard to maintain the motivation to take action and make a positive impact when you believe there isn’t much hope for the environment. Likewise, it’s easy to take on a position of learned helplessness when you truly believe things are out of control.

But- one of our biggest beliefs is that there is hope for the environment. There is hope for the most vulnerable, the people most affected by the ecological crisis. And we believe it’s time to start telling this story. As Damon Gameau says, “If we don’t stop telling the story that we’ve been telling ourselves about who we are and how we interact with our planet, then we’re not going to save our planet. Our survival actually depends on us telling a new story about how we interact with our environment. “

A Festival in the Congo
A Festival in the Congo

Telling a story that we’re involved in

Sometimes it’s easy to read reports about the environment without feeling much of a connection to global level statistics. You might see a news clip about pollution featuring stock footage of factories that look nothing like what you live. You might watch a documentary that’s good and compelling, but the visual of a spinning Earth floating in space makes it seem like it’s a story we don’t have a very big part in.

And for people who live in a more urban context, who don’t have as direct of a connection to the land, it might be real easy to get out of touch with our relationship with nature. The cycles and processes of seasons can get easily obscured by insulated buildings and technology.

But, for all residents of our planet, the environment has profound impact on our lives. They will affect the food we eat, the air we breathe, and what we end up passing on to future generations.

What’s one way to remember that the environment’s story is one that involves us? It’s by remembering our call to love our neighbors.

Even though we might experience disconnection or insulation from the natural world, many people do not. In fact, the world’s poorest communities already feel the burdens of climate change, deforestation, and lost topsoil. Plant With Purpose works with people like Messoyel, Gernita, or Wilson to remind us of the personal impact of the environment. We also share their stories to show how much change is possible when people see themselves as part of the story.

DR Congo Women Celebrate
DR Congo Women Celebrate

It’s a story full of hope.

We see communities like Ojo de Agua in Mexico restore their barren hillsides by committing to planting trees. We see villages around the base of Mount Kilimanjaro turn their crisis into creativity, by investing in sustainable learning and innovation. They all remind us that hope is possible.

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned. However, there are also plenty of examples where hope takes root. We see what changes are possible.

In fact, it’s often when the situation seems most desperate that communities spring into action like we haven’t seen before. Hope is simply the belief that things can be different, and the propensity to act on that hope. At any given moment, there are millions of people acting on that hope, even though environmental outlooks often appear grim.

That hope is like a seed, and when it grows, it looks like reforestation, soil fertility, and biodiversity. It looks like a farmer like Ah Jee. He realizes that his grandchildren will enjoy a much more abundant life than his own.

When we shift our story from one of anxiety and despair towards God’s story of redemption and restoration, we realize that the plan for redemption also exists for our natural world. But we are not made to be passive actors. We are created and called to participate alongside our creator, in cultivating hope all around our world.

We believe that we can be a part of creating more stories of hope for our planet. To invest in restoring the relationship between people and the planet for just $22, you can sign up to be a Purpose Partner. Visit this part of our site to learn more.

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