Passage of Green: It is our responsibility to help nature thrive
By Burnie Cook
After watching this year’s Academy Awards, it would appear we are looking for nature and hoping for it to save us. Three recent, highly-touted movies are epic tales of trials and ultimately survival in nature (disclaimer: these movies are not religious or even appropriate for children, it is simply my intent to share how nature is key to survival in each).
In “The Martian,” astronaut Mark Watney has to use his knowledge and training to survive on Mars as he tries to get home to Earth. He records and logs all that he does, so the audience knows the trials he faces. Nature in this movie can be seen in two ways: in the relentlessness of Watney’s human nature and how he grows and develops and in the merciless forces of nature he finds on Mars. He reduces, reuses and recycles throughout the movie as he and his companions on earth try to find a way to bring him home.
“Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him” (Jas 1:12).
Max and Imperator Furiosa are thrust into an adventure together through a wasteland of a world in “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The group of characters are trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that is a ruthless wasteland. It is a bittersweet moment when green plants are found and Imperator Furiosa seeks desperately to return to “the Green Place” where she was raised. Water is also important in this grotesquerie of a film.
As Jesus tells the woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:13-14).
Finally, there is “The Revenant” in which nature plays an unspoken but large role. The dictionary defines revenant as “one that returns after death or a long absence.” Whether it’s a bear, ice, snow, people, fish, trees and more, the main character, Hugh Glass, endures many deadly encounters as he fights for survival. Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Academy Award for his portrayal of the ultimate survivor in this film. In his acceptance speech, he praised world leaders who take on big polluters and who stand up for all humanity. “Let us not take this planet for granted,” he said.
From these examples we see that in Hollywood at least, nature is often seen as a trial with many beautiful aspects that eventually help characters survive and even thrive.
Pope Francis said, “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good ... Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place” (La Repubblica, October 2013).
My hope is that we as Catholics see as good the need to do our part to protect our earthly home, so that we can thrive and so that future generations will thrive as well.
As we enjoy this spring, may we all come to realize that though we may not be the ones who need nature to save us, we are indeed the ones who need to work together to save nature.