Earth cries out for mercy
Pope Francis has been labelled as Pope of Mercy. He has woken up the church and the world with the thought of mercy; he calls us to show mercy not only towards each other but also towards the planet which is our home. In the World Day of Prayer for Peace, he has called the people to “show mercy towards the earth”. For the expression of true mercy there is a need for repentance; to put right the sins and errors we have committed towards our mother earth. We need to repent for our sins of abuse against the earth through our greediness, carelessness, arrogance, and negligence.
Our sins of covetousness have made us to over use and abuse the resources of the planet, degraded it, and made it uninhabitable for our children and grandchildren. Covetousness and avarice are cardinal sins. This calls for repentance and expression mercy. It is surely an urgent call, a wakeup call to all the inhabitants of the earth. As a matter of fact, by showing mercy to the earth we are showing mercy towards ourselves. It is a favour we show to ourselves and to our children and progenies that follow. It is a love that we have our neighbours, both far and wide. Pope Francis explains this social love in his recent letter Laudato Si as follows:
“Social love is the key to authentic development: ‘In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life – political, economic and cultural – must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity.’ In this framework, along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society. When we feel that God is calling us to intervene with others in these social dynamics, we should realize that this too is part of our spirituality, which is an exercise of charity and, as such, matures and sanctifies us.” (# 231)
Christian charity is person-centered, love-centered, creation-centered and thus God-centered. Integral formation of a person leads to sanctity and thus an integral person cares for the earth. A person with holistic growth cares for the earth that houses him and sustains him. The earth that sustains us is a great providence of God to humanity and it is our bounden to care for it, esteem it and to love it. Holy Father calls us to build a “culture of care”. The earth that we care will certainly enhance our life. This is authentic Christian spirituality. Pope Francis wants all the inhabitants of the earth to grow towards this spiritual consciousness.
Caring for the earth is an urgent need of today. Earth that is degraded, abused, and humiliated is calling us to show mercy. Our failure to be charitable to the earth has wounded this home of ours and we are not paying for the harm that we have done. Now there is a need for consorted effort in all human virtues to undo all the injury we have done to the planet.
As we have reflected in the previous issues of Leadership magazine in honour of the Year of Mercy, mercy is preceded by several other virtues and human qualities for it to be meaningful and consequential. Now we are invited to be compassionate to the earth, be kind to various faculties of the earth, be thoughtful and repentant to the wounds we might cause unknowingly or greedily, be hospitable to other creatures that share the planet with us, be generous with fellow inhabitants, show advocacy in standing for its protection and care for its well being to last for generations to come.
Earth invites us to live simple lives: Simplicity is the virtue of the wise and thoughtful. It is being satisfied with things that are just necessary to live. It is against pompous life that is marked by exaggeration, luxury and unnecessary. By forgetting to live simple lives we actually complicate our lives and set hurdles for happy and contented life. For example, when we need only few sets of clothes, why do we have dozens of clothes?
Earth invites us to live conscious and thoughtful lives: Consciousness is the virtue of people who are aware of who they are and what they want in life. Earth (and its degradation) calls us to be aware of wrongs we have caused in the past few decades and warns us of great peril that awaits us if we do not do something to alleviate the wrongs in the near future. Thoughtfulness to the earth will make us selfless and considerate towards the needs of our neighbours and the generations that ought to share the resources in the coming decades and centuries.
Earth invites us to live reasonable and intelligent lives: Being reasonable is being realistic and down-to-earth. It is born out of living intelligent lives. It is being honest in acquiring and using the resources that are actually needed to live. Possessing and hoarding things that are unnecessary and even harmful is being superfluous and making our lives redundant.
Earth invites us to live meaningful and purposeful lives: At the creation of the world, God, the creator gave us a duty, purpose and find meaning in our lives by caring for the world, re-creating it and developing it. To be co-creator, caretaker and even co-redeemer of the earth calls for being generous to the earth and to be generous to fellow inhabitants of the earth.
In practical terms can we do the following? Keep tidy our homes and our surroundings. Be frugal in the use of water and energy. Protect other creatures such as animals and birds. Buy and grow food locally. Consume more vegetarian food rather than meat, at least for health reasons. Stop the poison by reducing the use of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, etc. Keep natural law by reusing, recycling, and repairing the things we use.
These simple acts call for personal commitment, dedication, love, faith and hope, which are sister virtues of mercy.
(Themes: Environment, Justice, Equality, Pollution, Garbage)