About 20 years ago, my boys and I witnessed an eye-opening event. While driving home from school, we passed by an active logging operation.We pulled over to watch. Big machinery always interested us (well, the boys at least). As we watched, tree after tree fell at the will of the workmen and in the space of just a
few minutes, we saw a large clearing where, moments before, was a forest.
I hasten to say that I am not against logging a forest. I appreciate the resource that we live with, the benefits we gain from using it and its ability to regenerate. I am not a forester, but I think what I witnessed was called a “clear cut.” Some would say that “selective” cutting would be a better way to use our forest resources. But as with so many things we do, there often are many right choices (as well as, admittedly, many wrong ones). Most of us have probably seen well-managed selectively logged sites that have subsequently blown down. As mighty as those trees appear, they are also interdependent and rely on each other’s proximity for their stability and strength. What was so “eye-popping” to us as we watched the first event, was how quickly humans can change the landscape and how attentive we must be to the future impact of today’s choices. I find that the same caution applies to our interaction with each other. What I choose to do or not do with each person I meet affects the tone in my whole community. And even one person can very quickly cause trouble by thoughtless, self-serving criticism and remarks. When I taught school, my objective was to instill in my students the reality that each of them was of infinite worth and that each of them could chose each day to make a positive impact on the world. “Feeling helpless” often reflects my own laziness. Do I want my neighbourhood to be better, friendlier, safer? Then I need to make what I do, be the difference I want to see. Anne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” And this, from a young girl who had just begun her life.
Jesus, himself, said that the second greatest command was to “love your neighbour as yourself.” (see Mark 12:31 and Leviticus 19:18). And the guy who asked, “Who’s my neighbour?” was just wanting to make excuses for himself. I don’t want any excuses; I want the world to be kinder, happier, healthier. I want to take every opportunity to stand by my neighbour.
Peggy Corbett is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church congregation.