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Preserving a Respect for Creation

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Modified on 2011/02/21 06:10 by xinara Categorized as Scouters Five
Preserving God’s Creations
BY ANNE BILLINGS

Paul Cox had no idea the rain forest near the village where he and his family were living in Falealupo, Western Samoa, was about to be destroyed until he heard the roar of bulldozers one morning in 1987.

Villagers had reluctantly sold more than 12,000 hectares of forestland to raise money to build a new school. Building the school was required by the Samoan government; financing it was left up to the village. “The villagers didn’t want to allow the loggers into the forest,” explains Brother Cox, who is on leave from Brigham Young University while he serves concurrently as director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii and as a professor of environmental science in Uppsala, Sweden. “In fact, they had held off the loggers for 10 years. But they had no other way of getting funds for the school. They felt they had to choose between their children and their forest. It was a terrible, terrible decision for them.”

Many people would feel powerless in such a situation, but in that difficult moment, Brother Cox made a decision. “I offered to raise the money to build the school if the villagers would protect the forest. … I had no idea how we’d get the money.”

Then, he remembers, “I came back to my wife with the good news and the bad news. The good news was that we’d helped save a 12,000 hectare rain forest; the bad news was that we’d have to sell our house and our car and we still might not have enough money.

Brother and Sister Cox began preparing to sell their Utah home, but soon Brigham Young University students, family members, and community members heard about the cause and raised enough money that the Coxes did not actually have to sell their house and car.

Brother Cox sais “I hope that when I leave the world, I can leave it just a little bit better than when I came. Let’s face it: the Falealupo forest is a small place. The country of Samoa is a small country, but at least I’ve made a difference there. And I think that’s what it comes down to; each one of us. We can all make a difference in our own way.”

Preserving a Respect for Creation

Brother Cox has a deeper motivation for saving forests than finding new types of medicine. He believes taking care of the earth shows respect for “that … God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are” (Morm. 9:11).

He explains, “I believe that we live in a beautiful painting, a masterpiece, and that if we love the artist we should not slash the painting.”

Paul says that people of many cultures believe the world is sacred. “When they walk through the forest and look at the light filtering through that canopy, they see the face of God.” He believes that restoring this reverence in all cultures would do more to protect the world than anything else.

“If we are respectful of the planet, the creation, if we have a humble and a meek attitude toward the creations of our Heavenly Father, each of us in some way can indeed make a difference. That may mean doing something as simple as turning off a water tap that’s running, or cleaning our home and property so it’s pleasant and beautiful, or being careful in how we use energy so we don’t waste resources. It may mean treating domestic animals with kindness and compassion, or doing what we can to pick up litter and clean up local areas. I think the issue is not what we do; it’s that we do something, and that we do it with an attitude of praise.”

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