Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

The Importance of Feedback

When something is not working, you have two choices: abandon the endeavor or redouble your efforts, perhaps with a new approach.

Sometimes the first option is chosen unconsciously; after a time you realize that you’ve let some things drop. I’ve done this, with this blog even. You may have noticed the theme and calendar sidebar languishing unchanged for months. With little or no feedback on the value of those efforts, it seemed like a waste of time. It may not have been, but that was my perception of its reception. So I shifted my energy and attention elsewhere, someplace where I could see more immediate results. I felt a little badly, a small, nagging sort of guilt, but it didn’t hurt too much, because as I said, my attention was elsewhere.

But while I let that particular task drop, I remain committed to living a life informed by the ethic of stewardship. I see this group as a support network that can help me live the life I feel I ought to live. Whenever you attempt to do something counter to our culture of convenience, you must bolster yourself up with both ideals and compatriots. When I was a young mother and scrubbing cloth diapers out by hand, I had to find a community to help strengthen my resolve in the face of tedious, stinky work, because even though it was the fiscally prudent and self-sufficient thing to do, some days it was hard to care enough to deal with the mess.

We must have a community where we can commiserate with each other, where we can encourage and inspire each other, where we can praise the small good that we do, and motivate each other to continue to do better.

This is what I’ve gotten out of LDS Earth Stewardship in the time that I have been involved with this group: hope and encouragement, new ideas and a desire to live more righteously. I feel that I need to live up to certain moral standards and that lifestyle and consumer choices have an environmental impact that has a moral component. By being in this group, publicly writing and speaking about stewardship in general and my private lifestyle choices in particular, I have let others know what standards I have for myself. Their expectation and encouragement can help keep me honest when I am lazily inclined to let my standards slide.

When I was in high school, I was the only Mormon in my grade level, and my brother was the only other Mormon in the school. Everyone knew I was a Mormon and something about the peculiar Mormon standards–no cursing, drinking, smoking, sex. I remember a friend covering my ears at the lunch table to shield me from a particularly dirty joke. They respected my standards, and though they didn’t always share them, they both expected and helped me to live up to them.

Being known as a Mormon who cares about  the earth, who prefers riding a bike and walking to driving a car, who line dries all of her family’s clothes and eschews the AC, who recycles and gardens and cooks from scratch, mends clothes and buys secondhand, being known as this kind of a Mormon helps me to be better at being this kind of a Mormon. My neighbors joke with me if they notice I’ve actually driven the car. And I do fail, all the time. I do let things lapse and slide into laziness. But the fact that I am not perfect is evidence that I am human and weak, not that I am a duplicitous hypocrite. So I thank all of you for helping me live and be better, and for forgiving me when I’m not.

I see the Church’s recent publication of the statement on Environmental Stewardship and Conservation as a trial run, much like my attempt to have a monthly theme. It’s a good statement, a good page, but if there is little or no response to it, it too may languish in inattention (not to say that a monthly theme on a blog is nearly as important as a Newsroom piece.) I think it would be a shame if that happened. I would love to see more statements and talks about stewardship and accountability as it relates to the earth. So I think it is important that we give the Church feedback on the page, that we talk about it and share it. We want this to be the beginning, not the end.

At the beginning of this post, I said there are two choices if something is not working. I don’t know that the Church would chose to redouble its efforts on the environmental stewardship front if it sees that this little step is unfruitful. And I sincerely do not want the Newsroom piece to the be last that I hear about this issue from an official source. So please, please, let them know that this effort is appreciated so that the ideas of stewardship will not be neglected again.