Sometimes the right answer is ‘no’

Protecting life and the planet means following laws that we may not like

A big part of my job is saying ‘no.’ No, you can’t sit for the Grade Four exam. No, you can't be a superintendent with your current license. No, you cannot cut costs by ignoring your discharge permit.

As we hear often in catechetical and apologetic circles, saying ‘no’ is usually just a way of saying ‘yes’ to something else. God gave a pretty clear ‘no’ to Adam and Eve in order to protect them—to keep them alive. But hearing ‘no’—even if framed as a ‘yes’—isn’t easy. Especially in modern cultures, with their expectations that everyone must get their way—that they must be allowed to act on every desire.

This gets us to the big news today: President Trump’s reinstatement of a ban on transgendered people from military service. The announcement resulted in the usual explosive fury from the left, which was then magnified by mainstream and social media. (Which is why I’ll be refraining from checking my Facebook news feed until the weekend.)

Criticisms of the administration’s decision were to be expected, of course, but not for reasons that have to do with facts. Expressing some variant of the word ‘no’ was enough to send many into a tizzy.

This got me thinking about our current eco-woes. After all, the concept of 'no' and the word itself are perfectly good ones. They are essential to getting our eco issues right.

No, you cannot keep pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. No, you cannot dump tons of plastics into the ocean. No, you cannot ignore the laws of nature—at least not without expecting some consequence.

Come to think of it, we eco-advocates say ‘no’ all the time. How, then, can a people so comfortable in some instances with this word be so unhappy with it in others?

Like it or not, the rejection of modern realities like gender theory, with its malleable understanding of the human person, is part of what Pope Francis’s concept of Integral Ecology includes. The laws of nature and natural law are equally fixed and render equally severe consequences when ignoring them.

But once again, the duality of ideological extremes here in the West can’t seem to get this concept. The left so often continues to advance causes that are alien to the natural law while the right so often advances economies that ignore the laws of nature.

And so the planet and its people suffer, all because we reject what our first parents learned in Eden: Quite often the word ‘no’ is meant to keep us alive, to protect our neighbors, and to save our souls.

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.