Secondary school material

A suggestion for an address for collective worship at secondary level

No doubt you are all looking forward to the time when you can drive a car and when, in due course, you own a car yourself.
Probably you already have a good idea what make and what model you would like.
We live in a society where we take it for granted that if we have enough money we should have a car. Perhaps even two cars.
But people are now beginning to question how much we should really depend on cars. They are also questioning whether we should rely on vans and lorries to transport goods or whether we ought to make more use of the railway network and the waterways.

Can we continue to take more and more land to build roads? Should we go on using up the world's resources of oil to fuel our petrol engines? Do we want to spoil more areas with rusting piles of disused vehicles or mountains of worn-out tyres? Can we justify polluting the air with the exhaust gases and condemning more and more people to suffer from asthma?
You would resent it, and no doubt make up you mind to take no notice, if I suggested that you should not take up driving at all, let alone buy yourself a car.
But you are the people who must face the problem. There is a very real conflict between the increasing the amount of traffic on the roads and the need to protect the environment from its destructive effects.
Of course there are steps which governments can take to discourage us from using cars or to persuade us to use vans and lorries more economically. They can put up the tax on fuel, or charge us tolls for using motorways. They can increase the cost of a vehicle licence.
Local authorities can extend pedestrianisation so that most traffic is kept out of town centres.
These are practical steps to reduce the problem but they won't take it away.

Traffic is not by any means the only threat to the natural world and our environment. You can all think of other pressing problems. Rivers and seas are polluted. We use chemical sprays and uproot hedgerows to make agriculture more productive with the consequence that birds which were once common, like thrushes, become an endangered species.
We can look to scientists and to governments to seek out ways of protecting the natural world from some of the harm we do whilst ever we treat it as there just for us to exploit.
But you might consider whether we ourselves need to change our whole attitude to the environment. Shouldn't we stop thinking that nature is there simply for us to use? We need to look upon the earth with love, to cherish it and to see ourselves as its guardians not its plunderers.
This demands a change of attitude that is spiritual, that recognises our kinship, our oneness with the natural world. Jonathon Porritt has spoken recently about the need for a spiritual renaissance if we are to deal with what many regard as an ecological crisis.

It is up to us to bring that renaissance into being.

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