"This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22)." (par. 2)
The human body is directly related to the environment. We must first accept our body as a gift in order to accept the planet as our home. Pope Francis suggests that if we believe we have absolute power over our bodies we will soon believe that we have complete control over all creation. Every aspect of the world effects the body in some form. Humans are extremely in tune with their environments and even the slightest change can throw off the harmony between the two. He also touches on a point made by Saint John Paul II. He stated, “The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement. Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in 'lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies'” (par. 5).
Today, society must be Earth’s physical therapist. Natural resources are being depleted and society is so set in the habit of overuse that the planet has been exploited past its means. In order for the issue of climate change to begin getting better, society must show that it cares first. Physical changes will influence chemical and biological aspects of the environment, just as muscular changes will give patients their sense of freedom and happiness back.
Physical therapy allows those who have been injured to feel comfortable with their body and surroundings again. Frequently after an injury, daily tasks become difficult and the patient typically feels confined in their own homes. The environment in which people situate themselves has a large influence on the way they live their lives. If this environment is no longer comfortable, there will be adverse effects. Physical therapists will work to restore motion in affected areas of the body to restore comfort in the body and in given environments. As Pope Francis states, “We make every effort to adapt to our environment, but when it is disorderly, chaotic or saturated with noise and ugliness, such overstimulation makes it difficult to find ourselves integrated and happy” (par. 147). If the chaos of the environment never settles, the quality of life will continue to decrease. Future generations will never be able to hike through green mountain sides or play in the blue waters of the oceans. They will only know devastation and natural catastrophes.
Physical therapists have control over treatments in order to make them as specific for that particular patient as needed. Treatment for a particular injury is usually similar but there may be some exercises that will be more successful than others in expediting recovery. There is implicit reason and evidence behind each selection. We should expect the same for humanity and the environment. Not everyone is going to contribute to helping the environment the same way. Overall, the concept of saving the planet is the same; however, expecting every aspect to relate to an entire society is unrealistic. Each person must realize what small changes they can make to make an impact on the environment’s condition. Tons of waste are produced every year and by the time society decides to do something about it, there will be irreversible damage.
Pope Francis encourages us to make "small gestures of mutual care." Just as a physical therapist can alter treatment plans, we can slowly alter our lives to prevent irreversible damage of the planet. Each person must realize what small changes they can make to make an impact on the environment’s condition. From using a reusable cup to making sure trash is not being littered, the environment will be positively impacted. Small acts of trying to keep streets and water supplies clean will help relationships with the poor. The poor and the condition of the environment have a direct relationship because they are often unable to protect themselves against health hazards. The accounts from the book of Genesis suggest that “life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor, and with earth itself” (par. 66). These three relationships have been broken both mentally and physically. We must protect those who cannot protect themselves and by doing that, the earth will begin to heal.
“Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worsen if we continue with current models of production and consumption” (par. 26).
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