God spoke to Zechariah, and said, “Here’s what I say: Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, foreigners, or poor folk. Don’t conspire to do what you know is wrong.”
But they refused to listen, shrugged their shoulders, and ignored what they heard. They barred the doors of their hearts so they wouldn’t have to hear what the law said, or what God inspired previous truth-tellers to say. So God was totally pissed.
“Just like when I called they wouldn’t respond, so when they called I wouldn’t respond,” God says. “And I blew them away all across the map, to places they’d never heard of.”
The land was left desolate. Nobody lived there and a wonderfully good place was ruined.
You can say that God is totally pissed, or you could call it karma, or you can simply recognize that the both the sustainability and desirability of a place and of a community is dependent on how it treats it’s most vulnerable:
…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
-from Hubert H. Humphrey’s last speech.
A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.
More recently Jared Diamond wrote a fascinating study, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, in which he connects the collapse of civilizations to mistreatment of the land they inhabit.
It’s not that warning signs are lacking. Whether you interpret them as coming from God or as the natural feedback of the biosphere, it’s the refusal to take corrective action in favor of clinging to short-sighted advantages that leads to ruin.
The flip side, of course, is that by paying attention to the signs, and doing what you know is right, things can also be redeemed from desolation.
You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution. Your choice.