As a matter of principle, "liberals' consistently express significant concern for the health of our national and planetary environment along with a positive view of the role of science. Also, as a matter of principle, "conservatives" take a very dim view of environmental science and regulations -- believing instead that people (and businesses) need to be left alone... and in the long run everything will be fine...
I recognize the limitations of attempting a one paragraph summary of "liberal" and "conservative" thought in regards to the environment and public policies. Nevertheless, I think my introductory paragraph is pretty close to the mark. Coming out of the "radical" or Catholic Worker tradition, I'm inclined to yet another viewpoint which is oriented to the mystical insight of St. Francis: the entire universe exists in a living web of relationships. For Francis, this was his experience of "fraternity".
Nearing the end of his life, Francis was lying on the floor of his hut in the woods, plagued by both self-doubt and too many mice running about over his dying body. Near despair, his surrender to the Holy One deepened into a final revelation: we are all One in the fraternity of creatures. With this revelation came a flood-tide of spiritual rapture and peace... and as was his wont, he burst out in song... and so we have the "first great Italian poem" and one of the greatest mystical treasures belonging to all of humanity: the Canticle of the Creatures. Here are a few lines from this Canticle:
"Praise be to you, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Brother Sun... Praise be to you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful... Praised be to you, my Lord through Sister Water... Praised be to you, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs..."
These few lines point to a third way between "liberal" and "conservative".
And this third way is what Francis experienced as "fraternity". In support of this franciscan perspective of "one vast web of inter-being", we can begin to entertain thoughts of a new paradigm... we, too, can experience the revelation of St. Francis... and by changing our language from "liberal" and "conservative" into "fraternity", we can re-create an environmental movement that will leave no one out, and nothing behind.
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.