Pedro Walpole SJ
Environment is relationship, it is community, it is family. Saint Francis knew this. The land gives us life, gives us food, filters our water and gives us a home.
Just because we make cement, steel girders, motors, microchips, and robots with our intelligence and extract all things from the land, our work and our production should not extract us from the book of nature. Robots may replace many human functions, but the value of personal reflection and community action, our sense of the meaning of life, is what it is to be human. When we value human reflection and compassion and hope deeply, the human is never irrelevant.
We must want to care, and today people are seeking more continuous occasion to reflect and act together and forming community as they go through a conversion of care for Creation. This means that people come together pray, listen, and share to what is important and take on little responsibilities with hope and happiness to change the world. Laudato si’, mi Signore… is changing people’s attitudes and sometimes major decisions in life.
Pope Francis reminds us: “Self-improvement… will not by itself remedy the extremely complex situation facing our world today. Isolated individuals can lose their ability and freedom… and end up prey to an unethical consumerism bereft of social or ecological awareness. Social problems must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual good deeds… The ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion.” (Laudato Si’, 219)
The seasons renew us, remind us also of our mortality, keep us humble. We learn anew that we are not masters or owners; we must respect and work with Creation. Look at the new life of this season, what have we done to deserve this? What a prayer it is to sit under the trees and be grateful and humble.
Leading a simple life has a different meaning for every person, but it is important for each of us to learn what “enough” is.
Do we know our extractive impact and regional planetary boundaries?
Do we work for health and happiness – are we free and mortal?
Do we consciously consider the life of the next generations?
Do we feel we belong and are at peace?
Reaching simplicity is a process and a question of priorities and commitments.
Common good and intergenerational solidarity are primary commitments, and these are best nurtured through community practices such as neighborhood involvement in organic farming, a college network promoting sustainability programs with students, or a global webinar sharing experiences and opportunities.
Within the basic context of a working community, we need to dare to envision the world by linking, learning, and sharing. We are called to connect our lifestyle and community with our environment and planet. We learn more deeply when we participate in community action together. Community, practice, shared area (domain) of common values or interests help us grow as community. We need to link, learn and share.
We need to promote values and practices a community can live by.
We need to invite others to share and call for deeper listening and response.
We need to seek peace and be free from fear.
“Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.” (LS 159)
“In the present global society, injustices abound, and growing numbers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable. The principle of the common good, logically and inevitably, summons us to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters.” (LS 158)
The mind has to shift and this is a great challenge, as we must now conceive with creativity and urgency a whole new way of thinking and communicating: how we as humans relate in every detail with the planet Earth. We need to integrate concern and compassion in our daily and institutional living to transform the moral and ecological outcome of our lives and our societies.
Points to reflect on:
- Environment is not a thing out there; environment is relationship, it is solidarity.
- We must give thanks for the seasons and learn what “enough” is.
- We need to integrate concern and compassion in our daily and institutional living to transform the moral and ecological outcome of our lives and of our societies.
- It is as branches pruned we bear fruit in community with God.