Al Fritsch, SJ
Our website Earth Healing, sponsored by the Kentucky Jesuit Mission, shares the electronic third draft of Reclaiming the Commons, a book that draws its inspiration and dedication from remarks by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 that, “the world’s wealth and resources do not belong to the select few; they also belong to the poor.”
Started in 2004, Earth Healing treats environmental and social justice through daily reflections and special issues. With over one million hits per month from 110 nations, our website is reaching out to more people who value the weekday reflections that cover a variety of simple living topics and the weekend writings that include homilies and other sacred issues. A variety of essays and poems is also shared.
Reclaiming the Commons is a “work in progress” and the emerging product is a cooperative endeavor, since no one has a comprehensive solution to the environmental crisis or how to handle its causes. We seek meaningful comments, though this is not a blog as such. In Reclaiming the Commons, the following areas are addressed: air, water, land, culture, health access, intellectual commons, communications, silent space, commerce, and movement of people. We highlight the massive disparity of wealth as a major cause of global insecurity and as a subversion of our democratic processes. False aspirations to upwardly mobile lifestyles and outmoded profit-motivation are to be replaced by a sensitivity to the needs of the world’s poor.
The global environmental crisis is exacerbated by a social addiction afflicting people in the advanced West, and is spreading rapidly to Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. This addiction cannot be overcome by traditional educational methods that seek to tweak the current dysfunctional economic and political system. Instead, we need a Resurrection-Centered Spirituality (an e-book also available in our website) wherein the lowly rise in a non-violent manner through agents of change. This movement is now starting to call for fairer taxes, removal of local or global tax havens, strong support for existing United Nations and innovative agencies, and initiation of global development projects. Why are there 1,300 billionaires and one billion destitute people, when excess wealth could raise the quality of life for all?
Currently, I spend half my time on these website issues and the other half ministering to two poor but naturally-endowed Appalachian parishes where people suffer from lack of essentials and are plagued by drug abuse. These areas are also where fossil fuel companies seek to denigrate Appalachian treasures so as to extract resources with impunity and neglecting to say that this region contains the oldest and most varied temperate forest in the world, an eco-tourist paradise. By necessity, our poor people are drawn to collaborative solidarity from which participation springs through divine inspiration; the lowly are exulted (Luke 1:52). See also The Little Blue Book: A Blueprint for Radical Change in our website. Hopefully, we are starting to see global and Appalachian struggles for justice as one movement. Radical change involves taking back what is rightfully ours. We do not have to wait until the privileged decide to let go. We must act now.