Notice how this French climate protest includes a placard invoking Joan of Arc. Greta Thunberg's visage replaces this engraving of Joan from 1903 by Albert Lynch. I'm unsure which came first, this moment or Margaret Atwood's comparison, but Thunberg continues to display youthful bravery and spirit in her advocacy for the planet. Greta and Pope Francis share a vision to alter our relationship to one another and to the planet for the sake of healing:
Pope Francis thinks we can respond best to Greta's prophetic voice if we remember that we are "made for love." Since to love is our true vocation, he thinks we can respond to the world and one another from that place and thereby learn to care more radically for our common home.
During his pontificate, that is, during his time as Pope (2013-Present), Francis has critiqued contemporary post-industrial society by stating we are plagued by a "culture of indifference." (Now, we will have occasion to mention what Saint Ignatius of Loyola meant by indifference in his context. Let us register that the two meanings of "indifference" are distinct. The former is marked by an inability to turn "what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering," and is thus characterized by a turning away. Ignatius's practice is one of emptying out our own desires to become ever more attentive to what God is speaking into the suffering heart so that we may dare to turn.). He contrasts the culture of indifference to a culture of encounter. When we take the time to encounter our neighbors with genuine attention, that natural generosity and care wells up within us, and the love for which we are made is extended to those neighbors. We feel this need for encounter acutely today during the COVID-19 lockdown. Listen to the moving words on encounter from Rev. Phil Jackson on Palm Sunday (April 5, 2020) that highlights how much we miss being with each other in true encounter, despite our availability online:
When I travelled along with others from Scranton to El Salvador to grow in solidarity with the people of El Salvador through CRISPAZ, I had the privilege of being hosted by an interpreter who schooled me in the ways of environmental degradation in the region. (He and his family now run an organic farm in Vermont called Ananda Gardens, which they began as a consequence of his convictions about the intimate connection between soil health and the health of society.). One matter to which Patrick opened my eyes was the role toxins in farming have in tropical environments. Instead of pristine waters, fed and filtered by tropical vegetation, modern industrial farming not only frequently stripped the land to create cattle farms, but also utilized manufactured and licensed seeds requiring pesticides to flourish. The seed companies corner the market on seeds, "own" any crops fertilized by those seeds, and amass harmful amounts of pesticides to cultivate crops. (A student from Pitt explains some of these matters.) We have yet to address the economic injustice here, but if we focus simply on what "runs off" into the waters, we can understand why places like El Salvador have high rates of renal failure in their population (especially children), because their water is poisoned. Here is a link to the science behind increased disease rates in tropical regions, with a focus on kidney injury, lest you think the phenomenon is isolated:
We are only now willing to listen to the experts who have been connecting environmental degradation to the rise in infectious disease outbreaks around the world. That is because COVID-19 is knocking at all our doors and we are now directly experiencing the suffering we have otherwise been willing to ignore.
Created with images by Radu Stanescu - "Climate change march - September 2019" • Radu Stanescu - "Climate change march - September 2019" • Tim Mossholder - "Colorful Hands 3 of 3" • Nikola Jovanovic - "untitled image" • Sandy Kumar - "Mother’s Love" • Dustan Woodhouse - "Take a walk a few KM’s from your next resort, here is what the beaches of the world really look like these days." • Nina Strehl - "This is Max wearing a cap from LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR. The label is a social label from Switzerland that wants to spread lots of world changing love! 12% of their sales goes to homeless and the crew around founder David Togni are always busy loving on people in their world. Have a look att their website loveyourneighbour.ch" • Fabio Santaniello Bruun - "Floating sandwich in Istambul" • Holger Link - "Puxi" • Free To Use Sounds - "Face protection coronavirus in Hong Kong! If you're new to my Unsplash account and you're curious about how we can travel around the world and record sounds full-time, just follow us here on Instagram @freetousesounds because we love to talk about it and share our journey! If you are going to use this photo and you like to say thank you, I'm the founder of one of the largest sound libraries in the world. Feel free to check it out and buy one of my sound libraries at www.freetousesounds.com. Thank you!" • Oliver Sjöström - "untitled image" • USGS - "Like a watercolor in which a brushstroke of dark green has bled into a damp spot on the paper, southern Africa's Okavango River spreads across the pale, parched landscape of northern Botswana to become the lush Okavango Delta. The delta forms where the river empties into a basin in the Kalahari Desert, creating a maze of lagoons, channels, and islands where vegetation flourishes, even in the dry season, and wildlife abounds." • Amaryllis Liampoti - "Our flying friend was guiding our mokoro to a remote island. He left us there and shortly after was gone to new adventures." • Felix M. Dorn - "untitled image" • Mona - "With mokoro in the Okavango Delta in Botswana on holiday. Travelling in summer during dry season." • Mark Dumbleton - "Southern Carmine Bee-Eater" • vadim_petrakov - "Okavango delta (Okavango Grassland) is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa (view from the airplane) - Botswana, South-Western Africa" • sirisakboakaew - "Three elephants." • Francesco Ungaro - "untitled image" • Boxed Water Is Better - "untitled image"