Article by Peter Koeppel, member of Trinity Memorial Church in Binghamton and the diocesan Stewardship Resources team.
Years ago, a friend shared with me, “If you want to beat the system, play by its rules, only more so.”
“Only more so” can be a dangerous perspective: its self-righteous cousins are pride of outdoing each other (“He who has more toys, wins”), and self-righteousness (remember the Pharisee and the tax collector?).
That’s obviously not what we’re talking about here; we’re not competing with each other who’s got more toys, or who is greener. We’re talking about redirecting a system which would love to keep us hooked on fossil fuel-derived energy by playing by its rules, only more so. Does our challenge sound like moving a mountain? Yes, if we assume that we have to find ways to change the system only through legislation or governmental rule making. Those have their place in leading us away from fossil fuel based energy, and we must not ignore their power. Here, though, we’re talking about the power of choice in the marketplace, and exercising that power to the benefit of God’s creation.
We can do so, by simply using renewable energy as much as we possibly can. When “the system” would keep us hooked on fossil fuels, we can instead go out and find a supplier of green energy (solar, wind) for our homes. In doing so, we exercise our power of choice, and we use the very market system that has held us at its mercy for so long to change the path forward: by buying renewable, green energy, we grow the market for such energy, and shrink the demand for fossil fuel derived energy. We use, in other words, the most significant power we, as consumers, have: to vote with our wallet and here we can do so in the service of caring for God’s magnificent creation.
Once we have taken that first step, we can always look for more opportunities to substitute renewable, green energy for fossil fuel derived energy. Eventually, most cars will need to be replaced; likewise home heating and cooling systems, water heaters, clothes dryers… When those times come, looking for cars and appliances which are powered by electricity is likely our best choice if we’re serious about creation care. Not long ago, flow-through instant water heaters were considered to be a good step up in energy efficiency over traditional tank water heaters. Now, it appears, one can even find water heaters based on heat pump technology: rather than generating heat by burning oil or gas or by using electricity, these devices move heat from outside air to the water we want heated. Moving energy over these short distances is definitely a winner, energy consumption-wise. The possibilities we will encounter for changing our economy’s makeup towards green energy will only grow over time. And we can help them grow.
So, what do you think you might be able to accomplish, if you were to approach your stewardship of God’s creation from the perspective of “only more so?” Does moving a mountain suddenly seem easy?