Thursday, September 02, 2021


Responsibility implies freedom, and man, who is in bondage to environment, to social ties, to inner disposition, may yet enjoy freedom before God. Only before God is man truly independent and truly free. But freedom in its turn implies responsibility, and man is responsible for the way in which he utilizes nature. It is amazing how thoughtless modern man is of his responsibility in relation to his world. He finds before him a world crammed to overflowing with wonderful materials and forces, and without hesitation or scruple he grasps at whatever is within his range. Omnivorous in his desire, unrestrained in his efforts, tenacious in his purpose, he is gradually changing the face of the earth, and there seems to be none to deny him or challenge his mastery. Deluded by this easy mastery, we give no thought to the question of what basis there is to our assumed right to possess our universe. Our own wayward desires and impulses, however natural they may be, are no title to ownership. Unmindful of this we take our title for granted and grasp at everything, never questioning whether this may be robbery. Powerhouse, factory, and department store make us familiar with the exploitation of nature for our benefit. And lured by familiarity, the invisible trap for the mind, we easily yield to the illusion that these things are rightfully at our disposal, thinking little of the sun, the rainfall, the watercourses, as sources by no means rightfully ours. It is only when we suddenly come up against things obviously beyond the scope of human domination or jurisdiction, such as mountains or oceans, or uncontrollable events like sudden death, earthquake, or other catastrophes, which clearly indicate that man is neither lord of the universe nor master of his own destiny, that we are somewhat shaken out of our illusions.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 314

<idle musing>
An amazing indictment of humanity, all the moreso because it was written in 1942! Long before any environmental movement, long before plastic became the ubiquitous problem it is today. Even back then he perceived the dangers inherent in the ruthless exploitation of the earth. Truly an amazing thinker!
</idle musing>

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