Christopher Lind, a theologian at some Toronto University writes a try-to-feel-good attack on mining entitled Mining Companies Challenged by Demands of Ecojustice. Because he attacks without substance, I feel it fair to counter with vigour. The good Anglican starts by asking a perfectly reasonable question:
Is social justice compatible with environmental justice? If social justice requires economic expansion and environmental justice requires industrial regulation, aren’t these two concerns moving in the opposite direction?
Sadly he does not answer his question, or even begin to analyse the issues involved in this obvious conflict. Instead he takes a few low pitches, routine mumblings really, at oil prices, cyanide, tailings in lakes, Canadian mines doing bad things in South America, and then in a crescendo of irrelevance concludes:
The Canadian Churches have also been reflecting on these issues of social and environmental justice. In a document reflecting on guidelines for biotechnology, the Canadian Council of Churches include the following principles:
- We carefully and comprehensively consider benefits and/or harm to all creation both now and in the future.
- We share responsibility for the common good of all people and creation.
- We pay particular attention to the implications for the poor, the marginalized, the weakest, as we seek to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.
- We advocate and nurture dialogue across the whole community to ensure all voices are heard and considered.
In these guidelines you can clearly see the ethical standards of solidarity and socially just participation being applied. Ecojustice is neither a contradiction nor an option. If we want to build a moral economy in a sustainable society we will require a relationship with all of Creation that has sufficient resources for all.
Ingnore the poor grammar for a minute, and try to work out what this is saying. Let us take a look at the last point: advocating and nurturing dialogue across the whole community. “Except of course the mining community. Really we mean our community of like-minded individuals, not those nasty polluters, aka miners.”
What about paying attention to the the implications (of what?) for the poor? The implication of poverty unrelieved by development or opportunity? Of course the church in all its guises has been good through the centuries at keeping the poor poor, the rich rich, and enjoying the benefices of privilege. So nothing has changed here. Except the muddled writing.
I could take this professor of Ethics and Economic to task point by point, but seeing as his sense of ethics and economics is so distant from mine, or from a reasonable mining perspective, or even common old garden fairness, let him be and continue as a voice in the wilderness for the non-comprehending masses. His incomprehensibility is par for the course and is like all official utterances, unanswerable.
Naturally I would love to hear more from him or his adherents on this one–freedom of speech in the USA sense.