Today is my blog’s 12th birthday. I started ART FOR HOUSEWIVES after reading “The Scientific Warning” of 1992. Spooky stuff. It starts out like this:
Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.
It was written by ”some 1,700 of the world’s leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences” who were not obligated to perform for some multinational corporation bought politicians.
Despite the warnings of these scientists, the indifference towards our home, this planet we call Earth, continues.
This year I will celebrate my blog’s birthday by rejoicing over the words Pope Francis made in this year’s encyclical. Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a practicing Catholic nor do I practice any religion save that of my own invention. Furthermore, I have not forgotten that it was this church that came up with the Inquisition. And, although I totally agree with most of this encyclical, the Papacy is a monarchy and behaves as such. With that said, it’s time to focus on this magnificently written document.
When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected, he chose as his Papal name that of St. Francis of Assisi which already is a statement in itself. St. Francis, although he came from a wealthy family, chose to live in poverty eulogizing the value of a simple lifestyle.
His Canticle of the Creatures praises God for the creation of the Earth and all that’s a part of it. It’s one of the reasons why this saint who preached to the animals and prayed in the woods has become known as the patron saint of ecology.
But maybe St. Francis’ biggest patrimony left to us is his is prayer often known an Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
And it seems that the saint’s namesake is going to honor the name. Recently Pope Francis’ 180 page encyclical was released where he reprimands the rich and powerful for their indifference and “cheerful recklessness” in terms of the world’s ecological crisis.
The encyclical states that “the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all” but “tyrannical anthropocentrism” has created “a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day”. The problems affronted are many. For example, pollution that poisons our daily life.
The Pope encourages little daily actions that can positively affect our environment “such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices”. For example, why not keep a bucket in your shower to collect water for your plants?
There is much global inequality that also needs to be addressed. Approximately a third of the food produced is thrown away. “Whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”.
We are approaching an environmental disaster simply because we lack respect and appreciation for our common home. The Earth has been generous but we have taken this abundance for granted and bite the hand that feeds us. That’s why the Pope urges a return to prayers before meals. Because prayer is not just meant for asking help. It’s also a means of expressing gratitude.
There are many ways of praying. When you enjoy the breeze that caresses your skin or look in awe at the stars and their many constellations or smile when your child laughs, you are praying. Our environment would be much better off if only we would take time out to give gratitude for what we already have instead of demanding to have more than we need.
Today I will seek to be like Paul Ricoeur who said “I express myself in expressing the world; in my effort to decipher the sacredness of the world, I explore my own”.
Despite the fact that seldom I’m in agreement with the Church, it makes me happy to be able to agree with them on something so important. My compliments to Pope Francis & Co. for having written such a well thought out and comprehensive document that has already provoke a myriad of reactions.
N.B. The inspiration for this post came from L’ENCICLICA della COMPLESSITA’ written by my favorite philosopher, Pierluigi Fagan.
Related links: France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities + Encyclical explained + Pope Francis recruits Naomi Klein in climate change battle