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Pollution

"Herodotus mentions that in some region of the classical world, the people regarded it as blasphemy, as contradicting the very will of the gods, to pollute the rivers. These people, according to some modern thinkers, might be considered culturally underdeveloped in as much as they did not experience the development of our technical civilization. Yet their spiritual sensitivity and refinement, when compared with the corresponding sensitivity of contemporary and civilized human beings that pollute the rivers with tons of poisonous substances, must be considered exceptional and excellent, whereas we would surely fail by their standards. The possibility that the religious basis of their behavior may today not be accepted as it was then described or even believed, does not undermine the character of their behavior that was socially perfect and especially commendable in this regard.

"Any change in the environment is a matter concerning all people and all regions in the world. And so all of us ought to become conscious of our collective obligation to conform to everything demanded for the sake of the protection of the environment. This obligation is fundamentally twofold:

(1) We ought actively to avoid destroying or polluting the environment, and endeavor to restore and improve it.

(2) We ought passively to reject the use of products whose production burdens our environment.

"It is our obligation to render all people aware of these responsibilities. For, although the potential influence of each individual may appear to be limited, the collective influence of all people together is limitless."

- Bartholomew
Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome & Ecumenical Patriarch

Excerpted from his address to the International Ecological Symposium Sacred Gifts to a Living Planet, Kathmandu, Nepal, November 15, 2000


Photograph:  The Rio Grande as it passes through pueblo country north of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  This river, which eventually forms the border between Texas and Mexico, begins as a pure mountain stream in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado but becomes one of the most polluted rivers in North America by the time it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.  Many cities along its way dump raw sewage into it, and large amounts of agricultural pesticides, fertilizers and toxic chemicals from maquiladora factories contaminate its waters.  Photo by Shawn Vegezzi 2005 (USA).

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