IF we really love someone or something for it’s beauty and goodness and not for personal gratification then for sure we will cherish, admire and protect that person or entity from all danger, harm, damage and sickness. We will support and enhance that life and contribute to its growth and well-being. That is love.
The history making encyclical of Pope Francis, “On care for our common home,” presents this ideal. “The ideal of a ‘civilization of love’ ”. 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.”
It takes moral training, value formation and education to reach a level of unselfish love like that for people and the planet. And it is this educated and enlightened love that Pope Francis is saying we must have to protect and nourish each other and all life on this planet and to protect the environment that sustains life itself.
It is the care and commitment to help the poor, downtrodden and exploited, the abandoned and the sick people that are at the heart of love. That’s the love we need to save people, family, friends, community the poor and the environment. This is the life-giving resource of nature.
We can be prosperous and have material things for a decent life of dignity but not at the cost of obsession with money and losing the love of people that love us and destroying our environment. It is the bounty of nature that gives us life and it is unselfish love that will sustain it.
Presently the bonds of unity of people with each other and with nature are broken. We humans are the pillagers of the earth, the polluters of the air and land and most humans have lost a love for nature. We cannot serve both God and materialism that destroys each other and the earth.
In the opening paragraph of the encyclical it is clearly stated what we have become to the planet and each other. Quote:
“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.”
The reason it is so necessary to challenge all people in the world to look for such a universal experience of love is because we humans have lost it. The more prosperous and materialist we are the less loving we become is what Pope Francis is saying.
We are killing and polluting the plant and animal life, we have poisoned the water, filled the air with death dealing fumes and toxic chemicals, heated up the climate and we stupidly wonder why so many people are dying from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity and preventable diseases.
We fall far short of having a caring and loving relationship with each other and with the nature live in violent urban jungles and we commit more acts of violence, abuse and exploitation than acts of care and love. What we learn from the encyclical—Is that human industrial activity using technology and machines that cause massive environmental damage and harm overwhelms the healing and recovery powers of the planet. The evolutionary process nature is slow. We humans, the species with the biggest brains but with less intelligence, are creating great unhappiness and endangering the future of the next generations by causing irreversible climate change.
That alone effects everything else. Witness: the melting ice caps, the rising ocean levels, the severe frequent droughts on one side of the globe and massive flooding on the other, extreme weather conditions are becoming the norm. The destruction of the rain forests, the over fishing of the oceans, the privatizations of food production and natural resources are diving the poor into famine and early deaths. We are choking on our garbage turning the planet into a filthy pile, Pope Francis says in paragraph 21.
“Account must also be taken of the pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste present in different areas. Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources.”
The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the land.
Food production is massively affected and malnutrition and impoverished living conditions in slums and famine like conditions kills millions of poor people annually, while obesity and self-poisoning with smog and toxic chemical in unhealthy food is killing the rich. There is so much more in this magnificent document that strengthens the campaign against fossil fuels like the excessive burning of oil and coal.
As Francis says, “The idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology … is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry at every limit.”
“Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”