Faith in Conservation: New Approaches to Religions and the Environment

By Martin Palmer; Victoria Finlay | Go to book overview

3
Changing Minds

Daoism has a unique sense of value in that it judges affluence by the number
of different species. If all things in the universe grow well, then a society
is a community of affluence. If not, this kingdom is on the decline
.
—The Daoist statement on ecology (chapter 10)

According to the World Bank study Voices of the Poor, the poor trust their religious organizations more than any other institution with the exception of their own social institutions.

The crisis was a severe one and the invasion seemed unstoppable. They flew in by the millions and brought almost total devastation in their wake.

It was the early 1970s and the brown plant hopper had arrived in Indonesia. This small insect was sucking the rice crops dry. In previous years the crops had increased dramatically as a result of massive use of pesticides and the introduction of irradiated rice. For the rice plant-sucking hopper this was a paradise, and hoppers were now at plague levels of infestation: previously each insect would lay three eggs a day, now they were laying 10, and Indonesia was facing a possible famine. It was at this point that Professor Ida Nyoman Oka, then a professor in the agriculture faculty at the Gajah Mada University in Jogjakarta, became involved.

The Ministry of Agriculture needed professional advice. By this they meant scientific advice. However, after a great deal of thought, Professor Oka—who also happened to be a Hindu priest—and his Hindu colleagues called on their knowledge of religious lore as much as of agriculture. They recalled the story in which a good king tries to kill a wicked demon king, but whenever he cuts off a head, two spring up in their place. In Hindu lore, the good king wins by remembering the moral principle of not killing.

-23-

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