The plant seen on the cover of our journal for this issue is called the Bird of Paradise. It is neither a bird nor is it found in paradise, but I took the picture in Hawaii and could understand both parts of its name. It is indeed a beautiful example of how diverse the plants that inhabit this planet can be. I guess one of the major reasons many of us enjoy travel and visiting museums, zoos, and arboretums is that we are enthralled with the incredible diversity that the living things around us possess.
We would like to suggest, however, that this diversity is more than a device to entertain mankind. From a scientific standpoint, it is the diversity of life on earth that has led to the high standard of living that is potentially available to us on this planet. As geneticists unravel the genome of living things, it is becoming more and more obvious why agricultural breeding practices of the past that have worked have been successful. The production of super chickens, super cows, low fat pork, and all the other special breeds we have has been possible because of all the different options there are to choose from. If, for example, there had only been one set of genes for all bovine on this planet, such cattle as the charolais would not have been possible. It is only because we have an infinite number of traits to draw from that we are able to select those that will serve particular needs that we have.
In plants, this is equally obvious. Man's appreciation of all that plants can do is in a very primitive state. Scientists have studied less than a fourth of all plants on this planet to see what they may be good for. Cures for cancer, AIDS, the common cold, and a variety of other ailments may well be in a plant we have not yet investigated. It is very obvious in today's world that the solving of the hunger and nutrition problems of this planet lies in the fuller uses of plants. It is the diversity of plants that holds the key to better nutrition, more and better fabrics to protect us and shelter us, and even the improvement of the quality of the air we breathe.
In God's creative wisdom, He gave us a wide diversity of life of all kinds on this planet and told mankind, "take care of the Garden, dress it, and keep it" (Genesis 2:15 ). The future has vast potential to be good if we will use in a constructive way all that God has given us. To arbitrarily destroy any of this diversity and thus end its potential usefulness to man is not only poor management of the "Garden," but also the worst kind of foolishness.
We would also suggest that the diversity of humans offers the potential for vast good. Each of us has a gift designed into our makeup that uniquely qualifies us to bring great blessings to others. Paul said it best:
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; for ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness (Romans 12:6-8 ). See also 1 Corinthians 12:8-27 .
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