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Personal Responsibility

After my father was transferred to the mid-west, I spent nearly a decade living in Cleveland. This enabled me to visit local attractions like Cedar Point Amusement Park and Sea World. Over time I began to learn some of the local history of this area. While discovering the Flats in downtown Cleveland, a series of night clubs, sports bars and restaurants, I was informed about the famous fire on the Cuyahoga River. The more I researched this river that runs through downtown Cleveland, I found that much of this dark past has been hidden from the public.

So you shall not pollute the land in which you live; for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood shed in it, but by the blood of him who shed it. 34 And you shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell in the midst of the people of Israel, Numbers 35:33-34.

As a growing industrial city, pollution in Cleveland was never a concern until a 10th fire broke out on the Cuyahoga River. Beginning in 1868, fires were accepted as a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution. These first 9 fires were mostly hidden from the national media, despite the 1.5 million dollars in damage caused by the 1952 blaze. Unfortunately, up until the 1970’s, bodies of water were used as dumping areas, expecting currents to carry this trash downstream. However, the optics of the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire was so bad, that Congress acted a year later to form the Environmental Protection Agency.

Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul. 12 Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock], 1 Peter 2:11-12.

From the Old Testament to the New Testament, pollution is considered a personal responsibility. Under the leadership of Moses, God urged Israel to be good stewards of their new promised land. When individuals decide to become lazy or sloppy with their surrounding environment, people are defiling the land in God’s eyes. In the passage above, one of Jesus’ disciples speaks of another type of pollution. Cursing and destructive words are viewed as a form of air pollution. Meanwhile, inappropriate actions, behavior, and choices result in spiritual corruption, polluting souls. Thus, if you want to make a difference in this world, exercise personal responsibility by seeking to live an upright life.

by Jay Mankus

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