Tithing for Life on EarthPhoto by: Stock Photo

 by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —

Many religions ask that supporters tithe 10% of their income to support their good works, but from the Earth, which supports us and all Life, we often take and do not give back. It would make sense to give back to the living systems that support us and all life. Everything we have, everything, comes from the Earth. There is an initiative called 1% for the Planet. This is good. But it is not enough given the size of the crises, and given what we receive. A ten percent tithe seems a reasonable balance.    

Taking without returning also costs us in other ways. Generosity and appreciation are qualities that dramatically increase our quality of life, from a warmed and opened heart to an enhanced immune system. Giving back creates a sense of participation and community and belonging; a cycle that is only good.

Many of us can find ways to decrease our consumerism by thoughtfully evaluating what we need versus what we want, and find 10%. The Earth gives us all our sustenance. Why would we not give back that 10%? How we give back is an individual matter but the idea of tithing for the Earth, tithing for Life, tithing for all the gifts we receive, is one that is in our best interests to begin to make part of our culture. If money is tight and giving up income isn’t an option, there are other ways in which we can give back. We can put real effort into spreading this idea; donate time to environmental projects. For example The Nature Conservancy organizes opportunities by state such as wetland restoration or helping to construct a living shoreline reef. More ideas can be found at https://www.nature.org/about-us/volunteer/search-volunteer-opportunities.

Only when we begin to create a balance between what we take and what we give in return, will we find our footing on the path to sustainability. Giving back to the Earth be it time or money, is one way of sharing the burden we bring; a very tangible act of appreciation and recognition for all that we receive, and ultimately serves our best interests and that of all other living beings.

Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.

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