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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Wednesday September 13, 2023: Who Will Speak For the Earth?

Wednesday September 13, 2023: Who Will Speak For the Earth?

Wednesday September 13, 2023: Who Will Speak For the Earth?

In a parable told by Jesus, a servant owes an enormous debt to his master, and when he pleads for forgiveness of the debt, the master forgives him. However, the same servant refuses to forgive a fellow servant who owes him a much smaller amount. The master’s response is stern: “Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?”

This is a very telling parable. Not only does it speak of the forgiveness of God, but also the forgiveness and compassion in our relationships, including with our Sister Mother Earth. Looking around and seeing the environmental degradation, it should be our planet who needs to do the forgiving.

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis writes: “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.” Because of our irresponsible use and abuse, we are the ones who should be asking forgiveness and mercy from our common home.

In the parable, the unforgiving servant is held accountable for his actions. It is his fellow servants who “rat on him”! The other servants tell the master because they see the unfair treatment and know they could be the ones who are mistreated. Likewise, as stewards of creation, we are accountable for the way we treat the environment. We need to call out the mistreatment of the environment, knowing that we too share this earth. We must speak out against the harm done, just as those servants spoke out against their fellow servant.

If we do not speak out against the hurt and the harm of our common home, then who will speak out when our home is gone? As Pope Francis reminds us in Laudato Si’, “The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor…”.

- Reflection for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time by member of Virtual Franciscan Justice Circle and Former FAN Board Member, Carolyn D. Townes, OFS

One small step: Here's a letter I wrote to Congressmen Huffman and Thompson as well as to the comment line of the National Park Service (see the link to the Park Service below. We need to send our =comments by September 25th.

September 13, 2023

Representative Mike Thompson

2300 County Center Dr.

Suite A100

Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Dear Mike:

I write to you in order to express my strong opinion that the private ranches in west Marin County on land owned by taxpayers and administered by the Department of the Interior and serviced by The National Park Service, funded by our tax dollars, need to be closed and the land restored.

This land is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore Park which are held in trust for current and future generations of Americans.

The buildings, homes and other structures used by the ranchers are within the PRNSP. We, the taxpayers pay for the maintenance of the fences and roads on these properties. We repair roofs, barns and other infrastructure. Our taxes support ranches that damage the land through overgrazing which degrades the soil. Waterways are polluted with livestock waste. There is a reduction in plant and animal biodiversity, and of course, we the people have no trail or other access to those ranchlands – even on property owned by all of us.

Kehoe, Abbotts Lagoon, Limantour and Drakes Bay (state-protected Marine Zones) are consistently found to be significantly polluted with E.coli (40 times higher than state standards) and Enterococci bacteria (300 times higher than state standards).

The National Park Service receives about $500,000 in revenues from the ranch leases annually. This is less than half of what it costs to maintain them. Meaning the taxpaying public is subsidizing the 24 for-profit ranch operations in the national park.

Because they live and work on federal land, PRNSP ranchers pay no property taxes.

It is time to stop subsidizing ranch operations that are destructive to this amazing land that retains so much biodiversity and will be a legacy for generations to come. But it’s is in desperate need of healing.

I ask that you use your position as a member of Congress to return our national park land to the people – and to end the giveaways to private ranches subsidized by taxpayers. Future generations will thank you.


David Carlson

8 San Luis Place

Santa Rosa, California 95409

Please feel free to use all or part of this letter this letter which I have attached:

Here's the link to the Park Service which is soliciting comments on the use of Point Reyes and Tomales Bay.

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