~Can People Blossom?~
There is a very long tradition of reading the Bible daily through a schedule of readings called the Daily Office. The reading for the morning of Feb. 1, included Psalm 72. It’s a royal psalm, exhorting the king to “defend the cause of the poor people, give deliverance to the needy,” among other justice making activities. The psalm expresses hope in the success and good fame of the king and his genuine care for the weakest in his kingdom.
One of the expressed hopes is this: “may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field.” What are the conditions that make it possible for people to blossom?
The current conditions of most cities in the world, including our own country, provide conditions that are more like a toxic soup of pollution and stress. Plant life doesn’t do well when the soil in which it grows and the water it takes in is laced with toxic substances that leach into the ground and settle from the sky. People life is the same. Plant life doesn’t do well when the sun is crowded out and there is inadequate space to grow. People life is the same. Plant life doesn’t do well when it is choked out by concrete and asphalt. People life is the same.
Rural, country life is not possible in the city, but healthful living is. Industry, transportation and more continue to be allotted a pass for the sake of the proverbial bottom line. In 1994, John Elkington coined the phrase, “the triple bottom line”: profit, people, planet. All these must be held in balance in order to sustain all three.
In 1952, an estimated 4000 Londoners died because of a toxic fog that blanketed the city for 5 days. The combination of fog, soot from coal burning industry, emissions from railroad and vehicles was deadly. Fortunately, nations have slowly been working to make the air we breathe less toxic. It gives me pause to wonder why there isn’t more urgency to make the air we breathe not simply less toxic, but more healthy given we know how much it costs in terms of health care, let alone the heart ache.
The frame the psalmist gives us is that people should blossom, even in the city. We don’t get a pass on providing each other a safe place to live because it happens to be in the city. FCC Pomona planted over 20 trees on our campus to provide food for hungry people AND to mitigate air pollution. It’s a small step and one we celebrate. We are also committed to working with other people who value human life to make our communities healthier places to live, so all people can blossom in the city.