The Human Footprint

I was horrified to read the author's advice on how to erase the human footprint. (Summer 2002) Did he pay any attention to logic and Oberlin-style rhetoric? In the memorable words of a Fred Small song, "Don't blame the children." THEY aren't the problem, and merely cutting down the number we have will do nothing to solve consumption problems. The typical American family (with few children) consumes more than a large, starving family in Africa. I'm not a statistician, but it seems logical that merely to replace our current population we need to have two children per family, but this assumes everyone has children and there are no accidental deaths. Ask the victims of any number of tragedies: accidental deaths happen. And there are people who don't have children (for any number of reasons). You're not proposing limiting the damage we humans cause. You're proposing either genocide or species-wide suicide. You don't want to erase the footprint, you want to obliterate the beings who made it. Surely this is inconsistent with valuing biodiversity, human and civil rights, among other things.
Chris Garton-Zavesky '90
Gastonia, North Carolina

I was disappointed and offended by Professor Carl McDaniel's article in the OAM entitled "Paradise for Sale." It contains a thinly veiled attack on religious belief, which Professor McDaniel dismisses as "demonstrably false," "naive," and a "fantasy worlds estranged from biological and physical reality." Furthermore, Professor McDaniel expresses the hope that what happens "in a home, school, or place of work" holds hope for preventing another "mass extinction of life" for which we humans are responsible. It is sad, and offensive, that he makes no mention of the role religious institutions might play in preventing such an extinction of human life. Professor McDaniel needs to develop an appreciation of the role of religion in nurturing respect and care for the earth. He needs to see that religious faith can come to the aid of his cause! For example, the Biblical tradition speaks of the world as a garden lovingly created and ordered by God. And it tells us that the "earth is the Lord's" and is therefore not to be despoiled by careless humans. At the end of his article, Professor McDaniel lauds Oberlin's "traditional concerns of equity, fairness, social justice, and respect for diversity" as utterly essential to overcoming environmental destruction. Professor McDaniel would be rewarded by studying Oberlin's early history. He would learn that Oberlin's passion for "equity, fairness, social justice, and respect for diversity" was born of the passionate evangelical, Biblical faith of Oberlin's founders. Professor McDaniel, like so many others, have conveniently forgotten the religious roots of Oberlin's heritage, which has alienated me greatly from the College in recent years.
Rev. James D. Edwards '73
Doylestown, Ohio

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