Respect for the Planet, Pope Francis, 2020

On the 9th of August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest report, stating in no uncertain terms that climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying. Unless immediate and large-scale measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are unilaterally adopted by governments, we all face a grim future. That is, a future vulnerable to weather events – heat waves, wildfires,intense hurricanes, prolonged droughts, urban flash floods, coastal floodings, glacial melt-downs, etc.

Sadly, these extreme weather events are all attributable to man’s own doing, as confirmed by the IPCC report. From the beginning of the industrial revolution till the present, modern man has relied heavily on the use of fossil fuel, which is the main culprit for the degradation of the environment.

For the longest time, however, efforts to mitigate global warming have faltered, owing to sheer indifference amongst the ranks of world leaders. Lobbying by powerful economic interests have shrouded the exigencies of climate change. Unfortunately, the mantra for economic development continues to be: profits at the expense of society and the environment.

Rise of Consumerism

Quite apart from climate change, the world is witnessing the mounting problem of plastics and solid wastes. This is because today’s milieu espouses a “throwaway” culture that is strongly influenced by consumerism. We see a world influenced by social media that has practically transformed consumers into conspicuous spenders. Consequently, this has given rise to the excessive production of consumer goods, the majority of which are disposable. This trend poses an equally alarming threat that could undermine the biodiversity of the earth’s ecosystem.

A World of “Bellies”

Faced with the twin challenges of global warming and environmental pollution, we, nonetheless, still see a nonchalant world. This brings home the point of the young priest, Josemaria Escriva, who, back in 1938, scribbled in his notes, the following:

38

“Can it be true (I just can’t believe it!) that on earth there are no men – only bellies?

St, Josemaria escriva, The Way, #38

With his use of figure of speech, the young Escriva lamented that people, during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, tended to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the comforts of their homes. Hence, his reference to”bellies”.

The Season of Creation

Interestingly, on the eve of the opening of the Season of Creation, a Vatican-inspired annual conference, the Holy Father prefaced his homily with the following phrases: “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor are becoming increasingly serious and alarming.”In effect, he is urging Catholics to take “decisive, urgent action to transform this crisis into an opportunity.” Recall that in 2015, Pope Francis wrote the encyclical, Laudato Si’, a wake-up call on care for our common home. Indeed, it serves as a reminder that we are facing a future vulnerable to extreme weather events with consequential life-threatening risks, specially, to the poor of this world.

Undoubtedly, we need to take action to care for our common home and to alleviate the quality of life of the poor amongst us. Otherwise, the world will face a future vulnerable to extreme weather. Hence, it is vital to create awareness of the perils of climate change and its consequences on humankind.

A Simple Action Plan for a Start

Whilst still in isolation during this pandemic, we could take advantage of spare time by reflecting on how one can participate in caring for our common home. For starters, Pope Francis suggests a simple action plan that is easily doable, as follows:

  1. Pray the Grace Before & After Meals. By adopting it as a family custom, this simple prayer, done before and after every meal, helps to foster the following:
    • Gratitude to God for the gift of life.
    • Gratefulness for the food on the table, gifted by nature.
    • Acknowledgement with thanks of those who by their labor provide us with the food ingredients for nourishment.
    • Lastly, reaffirmation of our solidarity with the poor.
  2. Practice the little ways of love by St. Therese of Lisieux. When we say a kind word, give a smile, or do a small gesture of service to others, we are in effect exercising charity to those around us. Through these small acts of kindness, we are able to become more sensitive to the needs of others and the environment we’re in.
  3. Adopting a New Lifestyle of “Less is More”. Clearly, the world has become competitive, influenced by greed and conspicuous consumerism. Materialism is at its peak, with the rich trying to outdo each other in accumulating luxury goods. Sadly, such a situation has widened the gap between the haves and the havenots. Clearly, there is need to overhaul the present “throw-away” culture. Hence, by adopting a new lifestyle of “less is more” – living a life of moderation and simplicity – we are able to affirm our solidarity with those who have lesser in life and, consequently, help in caring for our common home.

Conclusion

In closing, the current state of disrepair in the world of creation urgently calls for a new world paradigm that needs to be adopted by the global community. At the core of it, world leaders will have to forge an integral approach. By this, it means tackling the social, economic, political and ecological reforms that our mother creation and the world poor urgently cry out for. Whilst the task ahead may seem daunting, our Christian faith gives us the light of hope for a better tomorrow. At the heart of it, we just have to do our small bit.

As the Philippines is celebrating its 500th anniversary of Christianity, we, Filipinos, could use the occasion to adopt a small action plan with Christ at the center of it.

TalinMan

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