Emerging Perspectives: Student Chapters

Love and Environmentalism

Sophia Shannon

My mother had one general rule for me as I was growing up: to respect others, respect myself, and respect the environment. Obviously there were more rules that fell under this— “clean the dishes after school” being one I was just as frequently reminded of—but they all fell under this principle in some form. This was also the basis of my environmental education: respecting the environment, showing it the care, love and awe that it deserved, was a fundamental aspect of our lives. Every time we would go outside or take a hike, I would be reminded not to touch anything I didn’t have to, to leave things the way I found them, and to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings. These ideas of respecting others and your surroundings are common themes in religious doctrines as well—“love thy neighbor” is a common refrain, and one that is often used in religious environmental arguments. As can be seen in many religious statements on environmental crises, protecting those less fortunate than yourself (respecting others) and protecting the gift of creation (respecting the environment) are the focal points of religious arguments in support of environmental action. Yet the love of nature is often underappreciated or overlooked when it comes to discussions of the environment, despite its universality. Perhaps because the concept is emotional rather than scientific, love is more easily dismissed as a weak persuader, but because it is so basic to humans it stands to be one of the more powerful forces we have available to us. As a common religious and moral value, the love and respect that people are asked to treat their surroundings with is a significant driver in environmentalism, both to better understand the environment and to create a sense of responsibility in preserving it…


Find the rest of this chapter in Emerging Perspectives on Religion and Environmental Values in America HERE.


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Religion and Environmental Values in America Copyright © 2019 by Sophia Shannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.