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Our Only Home

Nature: Week 2

Our Only Home
Friday, November 18, 2016

Our world is a sacred whole in which we have a sacred mission. —Joanna Macy [1]

We are summoned to become fully human. We must mature into people who are, first and foremost, citizens of Earth and residents of the universe, and our identity and core values must be recast accordingly. —Bill Plotkin [2]

Joanna Macy, David Korten, and Bill Plotkin all speak of our era today as the time of the Great Turning. Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown write: “[If] there is to be a livable world for those who come after us, it will be because we have managed to make the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-sustaining Society.” [3] In another place, they say this change “is germinating now, that sustainable society on which the future depends. Its seeds are sprouting in countless actions in defense of life, and in fresh perceptions of our mutual belonging in the living body of Earth—bold new perceptions deriving from both science and spirituality.” [4]

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly last year, Pope Francis said:

[It] must be stated that a true “right of the environment” does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Man, for all his remarkable gifts, which “are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology,” (Laudato Si’, 81) is at the same time a part of these spheres. He possesses a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favorable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity. Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good. [5]

I am grateful we have a pope who recognizes the immense responsibility we humans have to care for the earth. Unfortunately, there are still many who deny the clear scientific evidence of our devastating impact. Climate change and its effects—unpredictable, changing patterns of drought, flooding, and powerful storms—are upon us. We have no time to lose. So many people and creatures will suffer and face extinction if we do not quickly change our lifestyle. Let us work together to creatively find solutions, to reduce our carbon footprint, to live more simply and sustainably on this, our only home. Humanity and the earth really will live or die together. The health of the planet and our continued existence depend upon our choices and actions.

Gateway to Silence:
Praised be You, my Lord, through all your creatures. —Francis of Assisi 

[1] Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (New Society Publishers: 1998), 21.
[2] Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (New World Library: 2008), 7.
[3] Macy and Brown, Coming Back to Life, 17.
[4] Ibid., 6.
[5] Pope Francis, Address to U. N. General Assembly, New York, September 25, 2015, http://time.com/4049905/pope-francis-us-visit-united-nations-speech-transcript/.

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