Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Are we really empty? Pope Francis' Encyclical on Environment and Human Ecology

(Source: Focus Blog) This says it all. Are we really empty?
Among the things I postponed reading when I was writing my thesis was Pope Francis' encyclical letter on the care of our common home. Today, as I reviewed several proposals for an upcoming conservation congress, I was reminded of this important document that sparked controversy among the climate change scientists and environmentalists from around the world.
In my brief reading of the document, one issue has struck me which applies to most of us who believe in the creation theory. We are all situated within a cosmic framework, meaning, the creation is not just about us, but its about our stewardship. As explained in Genesis, it is about how we 'work and take care' of the creation. It's for this reason - working and caring- that Pope's 42,000 words will definitely provoke and destabilize the existing power relations of the prevailing neoliberal society. What does it really mean to be a steward of the creation who works (utilizes nature) and yet cares (conserves, preserves the same nature)? 
These principles apply to us all, believers and non-believers, yet since they are brought forth by the Pope, they remind us of the moral (and also religious) responsibility (and if you like, the ultimate calling for all of us) on this planet. Pope challenges me to re-think whether my actions are an overflow of my emptiness, or they are indeed a response to the greater calling of continuing with God's creation. I have picked out these summary points from my fast-reading of the document:- 

  1. Reducing carbon emissions and curbing biodiversity loss remain ultimate goals for individuals and nations
  2. Encouraging community action rather than relying on business and international community might be the solution
  3. Addressing consumption as a priority, rather than population, promises better results
  4. Reconnecting with nature beyond internet connectivity helps us experience nature in a new way and therefore, understand its needs and contribute to its conservation
  5. Intergenerational Equity, and considering the coming generations is a moral and economic question 
Get a copy of the full document here and read it for yourself- whether you are a believer or not, it will provoke deeper thoughts on issues such as climate change, genetically modified foods, international negotiations, carbon trading, among others. 

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