As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: Episode 62

As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: An Autobiography by Rev. Sun Myung Moon
Chapter 7: Future of Korea, Future of the World
A Single Dandelion Is More Precious Than Gold, pg 226-229

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A Single Dandelion Is More Precious Than Gold

Three of the greatest challenges of modern society are solving pollution problems, creating a consciousness for protecting the environment, and increasing food production. The earth has already been extensively damaged. Our endless greed for material possessions has brought about serious air and water pollution that is destroying nature, including the ozone layer that protects us. If present trends continue, humanity will find itself unable to escape the consequences and traps of the reckless pursuit of material goods.

For the past twenty years, I have been working to sustain and preserve Brazil’s Pantanal region. The Pantanal—a region that overlaps areas of Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay—is the world’s largest wetlands area. It is listed with UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. I am carrying on a worldwide environmental movement to preserve the living creatures of the Pantanal in a pristine state of natural purity, as God intended at the time of Creation.

The Pantanal, where the water, land, animals, and plants exist in harmony, is truly a magnificent place. Simple words such as beautiful and fantastic cannot begin to describe its value. Photos of the area taken from the sky are so beautiful that a collection of these is one of the best-selling nature photo collections in the world. The Pantanal is one of humanity’s treasure troves, where rare species such as the white-throated capuchin, red howler monkey, macaw, jaguar, anaconda, the ostrich-like rhea, and the caiman live.

The flora and fauna of the Pantanal and the Amazon basin seem to exist as they might have on the first morning of Creation. The Pantanal is like a modern-day Eden. Human beings have destroyed a great many life forms that God created. Too many species of plants and animals have become extinct because of human greed. In the Pantanal, though, the original forms that God created still remain. I am planning to establish an aviary and an insect preserve in the Pantanal to save some of these unique species from extinction.

In addition to being a habitat for many plants and animals, the Pantanal is also an important source of oxygen for the earth and a storehouse to absorb greenhouse gases. The Pantanal is changing rapidly, however, due to industrial development. If the Pantanal, which along with the Amazon, provides such a large amount of oxygen for the earth, is destroyed, the future of humanity will be dismal.

Hundreds of species of fish live in the Pantanal. One is a gold-colored fish called the dorado, which often reaches a weight of more than twenty-six kilos. When a dorado first took my hook, it felt like my body was about to be pulled into the river. As I was reeling in the line with all my strength, it jumped out of the water several times. After several jumps, it still had plenty of strength left to fight. It was so strong it seemed more like a bear or a tiger than a fish.

The lakes in the Pantanal are almost always clean. No matter what is put into the water, it quickly becomes clean again. The water is cleansed quickly because the wetland environment filters sediments and pollutants, and this is why there are so many different species of fish living there. Each species feeds on something different. Living together in a complex system, they also devour organic wastes that dirty the water. Even their act of feeding has the function of keeping the water pure. In this respect, fish are very different from human beings because they never live for their own sakes, but as part of a larger balanced system. They help clean their environment and make it better.

The back of a water hyacinth’s leaf in the Pantanal wetlands is black with bugs. If all the bugs were to remain there, the hyacinth would not be able to live, but there are fish that eat those bugs off the leaves. So the bugs live, the hyacinth lives, and the fish live. This is what nature is like. No creature lives for itself. Instead, they live for each other. Nature teaches us this tremendous lesson.

No matter how many fish there are in the Pantanal, if people are given the freedom to fish there, the population is bound to decrease. To protect the fish, we need to develop fish farms. Because the fish in the Pantanal are so precious, we need to develop many fish farms. Similar facilities to protect insects, birds, and mammals are also needed. Raising insects will help increase the bird population. The Pantanal provides a perfect environment for all these creatures, and by focusing on how to increase their population, humankind can continue to enjoy them for centuries to come.

It is not just fish that are plentiful in the Pantanal. The riverbanks have pineapples, banana trees, and mango trees. Rice grows so well there that it is possible to have three harvests a year, even without irrigated fields. That’s how rich the soil is. Crops such as beans and corn can be grown just by spreading the seeds over the ground. Very little human labor is needed.

Once while traveling down the Paraguay River on a boat, we stopped at a house near the bank. The farmer who lived there realized we were hungry, so he went into his field and dug up a sweet potato. It was the size of a watermelon! He told us that as long as he leaves the root in the ground, it will continue to produce potatoes for several years. The thought that potatoes can be harvested without annual planting left me with a strong desire to take them to countries where food is lacking.

People who advocate developing wetlands stress the economic benefits of such development. The Pantanal, however, provides plenty of economic benefits just as a wetland. The area has vast tracts of virgin hardwood forest, and natives claim that a person could drive a spike into one of these trees, and it would still live more than a hundred years. These massive trees produce woods such as brown ebony, which does not rot and is said to last longer than iron.

Imagine what it looks like to have forests filled with such precious trees. I had some seedlings of these trees planted on four hundred hectares (nine hundred eighty-eight acres) of land in the Pantanal. The trees our members planted have made the Pantanal even more beautiful.

Human selfishness is destroying nature. Competition for the shortest route to economic success is the main reason that the earth’s environment has been damaged. We cannot allow the earth to be damaged any further. Religious people must lead the way in the effort to save nature. Nature is God’s creation and His gift to humankind. We must work quickly to awaken people to the preciousness of nature and the urgent need to restore it to the rich and free state it enjoyed at the time of Creation.

Because it has become widely known that the Pantanal is a treasure trove, a struggle over its future has begun. The place that we should be protecting is about to become a battlefield for greedy human beings.

For the past ten years, I have been taking leaders from countries around the world to the Pantanal and sponsoring discussions on how to protect this region and the rest of the world’s environment. I am gathering the world’s environmental experts and scholars and encouraging them to take an interest in preserving the Pantanal. I am working to stop the Pantanal from being destroyed by the merciless material desires of human beings.

As the environmental issues grow more serious, many environmental groups have sprung up. The best environmental movement, however, is the one that spreads love. People generally take care of things that belong to them or to people they love. They do not, however, take care of or love the natural environment that God created. God gave this environment to humanity. It is His will that we use the environment to obtain food, to have it in abundance, and to experience the joy of living in the beauty of nature. Nature is not something to be used once and thrown away. Our descendants, for many generations to come, must be able to rely on it just as we have.

The shortcut to protecting nature is to develop a heart that loves nature. We must be able to shed a tear at the sight of even a blade of grass that we see as we walk along the road. We must be able to grab hold of a tree and weep. We must understand that God’s spirit is hidden inside a boulder or a gust of wind. To care for and love the environment is to love God. We must be able to see each creature made by God as an object of our love. If our spiritual eyes were open, we could see that a single dandelion by the roadside is more valuable than the gold crowns of kings.

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