I must admit, I originally signed up for this class because I needed two more credit hours to fulfill my full-time student quota. However, as I have come to class and participated in the discussions and made a few discoveries of my own, I have to say I have found myself drawn in more and more. This was the one class this semester that I can honestly say I think I learned something valuable. Not to say that my other classes failed to teach me anything, but 5 years from now or 10, will I remember everything that was taught? Probably not. In religion and the environment though, there were issues brought up and opinions shared that I will not easily forget. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned over this semester was that of hope. I remember being 7 years old and painted a shirt with a world on it that said “Earth day is every day”. Sounds cheesy, but I did it on my own accord and I was only seven years old. In my third grade class we raised money to ‘adopt’ an acre of rainforest in the Amazon. Basically I am just saying that I have been aware of our environment for a long time and I have also been aware of the issues that plague it. While I am always looking for ways to improve the environment, I have been very negative about it. I felt that there was just too much wrong in the world and that there was no way humans would stop it. They didn’t want too. Everywhere I looked humans were too selfish to be concerned with things that didn’t immediately effect them. I still feel that way sometimes. When we were talking about animals, we were discussing what consciousness and reason are and if animals have it. It blows my mind that humans are so proud and snobbish to think of themselves as mortally different then an animal. We both bleed, we both need air…we are animals (as much as some people get offended by that, it is true) We have spirit that makes us different, but our bodies are made from the same crude matter. When people stop thinking of themselves as superior to everything else, then we can expect a change. That is how the Native Americans lived and Eskimos and so forth, these civilizations lived in harmony with the environment. But even though I am human and still get irked by many things, I have learned about hope. Hope is as necessary to make a change as is knowledge. Reading Jane Goodall’s book, A Reason for Hope, really opened my mind to the power of hope. It is important to realize that there are many people out there who are aware of the issues that we face, are abhorred at the conditions of certain animals and are actively trying to make a difference. These are not environmental extremists but everyday people who are making a difference step by step. These people are opening humane animal shelters, volunteering at food banks or soup lines, they are volunteers in Africa who are building modest houses for wanting people and the vast amount of people who live in remote areas and love their forests and lands and are actively taking a stand to protect them. Instead of sitting on my butt and judging others, I need to be more supportive of the good things that are going on around me and participate in making the world a better place. Not only will it be better for the world, but it will be better for my soul. I will be happier. Thank you for the opportunity to sit and listen to all of your thoughts and opinions this semester. I have really been touched. God Bless.