By Brett Boeh, Guest Commentary
The Campus Conservation Nationals Challenge goes from Feb. 15 to March 7, but in the Christian community, the concept of conservation and sustainability is nothing new.
The Bible begins with the story of Creation in Genesis, calling humanity to reflect on our role with the rest of God's creation. It is therefore no surprise that one of the Catholic Social Teachings calls for the Care for God's creation. With an appointment of "dominion" over creation, we are called as a community to practice love not only to our neighbors but also to the beautiful nature that surrounds us each day.
Perhaps most explicitly, Numbers 35:33-34 calls Christians to communion between humanity and the planet saying, "You shall not pollute the land in which you live, you shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell."
We often engage in conversation about God's presence around us. We may find God in our best friends, a person in need or in a helpful mentor but in the next few weeks, I encourage you to broaden your perspective. Let the conservation competition be a time to reflect upon God's presence in the natural world and also a time to build a relationship with God by caring for that creation.
Pope Benedict XVI insists, "Before it is too late, it is necessary to make courageous decisions" to curb climate change. In the dorms, this can be simple: perhaps, unplug your mini fridge and share your neighbor's next door. Turn off the lights in shared bathrooms when no one is around or, if you control your thermostat, turn down the heat a few degrees.
Be aware of appliances you leave plugged in all day but only use once; this can suck up energy. Watch out for continuing to charge computers and phones after they are all ready to use. In short, engagement in taking care of God's creation may not be as great as a sacrifice as you might expect when you include the little things that make a big difference.
With Lent beginning, the Conservation Challenge may be an opportunity to open your heart to a new form of thoughtful changes. In addition to giving up the sodas, sweets and television this year, consider engaging in positive impact for the environment around you. Encourage your friends and roommates to do the same.
Saving the environment has never been a granola eating, hippy-praising, hipster act of social justice; it is a universal and important responsibility for each of us.
The competition is a call for us to contribute to the caring of such creation. There are a series of fun events on campus and around the Portland community that seek to educate and create opportunities for your active involvement.
If you are interested in more information, check out our school's page at buildingdashboard.net/up. This is your chance to commit to service in solidarity with your dorms and in devotion to a Creator who calls for compassion with both people and the planet.
Brett Boeh is a sophomore psychology major. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org