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Two years ago I witnessed a brutal and senseless beating.

Near my home is a small park that follows the winding of a fairly insignificant but refreshing creek that feeds a larger river, which in turn deposits its contents into Lake Michigan. All of this is tucked into the middle of suburbia, a pleasant escape from the rush of the mega-mall just a mile away.

One fall Saturday I took a walk to the creek. When I arrived at the scenic overlook, I saw two young men standing over their victim. On the sand between their feet, gasping for each breath, lay a majestic Chinook salmon, much too large for this undeserving little creek.

Four years earlier the salmon had been born here. Against all odds, the once-tiny fish survived the long trip down the creek and the river and ultimately made its home in Lake Michigan. More miraculously, this king heard its call to return home. It had struggled to make its way up this too-shallow creek to give life before it died.

But the royal fish was captured by two kids who didn’t even bother to take their shoes off before stepping into the creek. As it lay gasping in the shadow of its tormentors, it tried desperately to fulfill its final noble purpose. The boys only laughed as the fish’s precious milky-white sperm soaked uselessly into the sand, generations of offspring with it.

I heard a low thud as their small log smashed his silver head into the ground. Then they simply walked away, leaving the broken body behind.

Somehow I don’t think that’s what God had in mind when he commanded us to “rule over” his creation and “subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). Yet what we learn as kids we continue as adults. We beat God’s great creation into submission for our own purposes, ignoble as they may be. Convenience is our king. We sock it to the environment instead of our wallets.

I’m no tree-hugging radical. I like my salmon dinner just as much as you (although I’d choose a cheeseburger any day). I believe fishing and hunting are legitimate and enjoyable sports. And drilling oil from the Arctic Refuge might not be all that bad if it can be done prudently.

On the other hand, I’m not making a profit by destroying creation. I recycle everything I can from paper to batteries. I think twice before driving across town unnecessarily. And I eagerly re-use what is generally considered disposable.

But my well-balanced silence makes me guilty. To look the other way while God’s creation all around me gets senselessly beaten is a sin of omission.

Creation is God’s gift to us for our appreciation, provision, and, yes, even for our entertainment. But as followers of Jesus Christ living in this world, we must voice our Genesis 1:28 calling, challenging ourselves and each other to rule and subdue creation with wisdom, love, and respect.

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