Climate change: an invitation to set off on the road

 

Climate change is one of the great challenges in the world of today. As human beings and as MSOLA sent so that «All may have life and have it more abundantly » (John 10.10) we respond according to the spirit of the Gospel and of our charism.

Phenomena related to climate change are experienced throughout the world. In Africa droughts and floods cause the yields of harvests to decrease, food insecurity to increase and all this has a negative impact on health. In Europe storms, mild winters and hot summers have an impact on farmers and on the economy. In America, floods, snowstorms and tornadoes cause deaths and contribute to the lack of water. In Asia and Oceania, tsunamis, cyclones and monsoons sow death; islands disappear and make millions of climate refugees… Everywhere these phenomena threaten people as well as the most vulnerable species of the planet and cause famine and poverty. These confirm the scientific reports which affirm that global warming is strongly influenced by human activities, lifestyles, production, energy and industrial choices, that is by the current economic model. In this way we are not subjected to climate conditions, but we create them ourselves.

In addition to this climatic and ecological crisis where the over-exploited Earth cries out its distress, there are multiple crises whose common denominator is a capitalist neoliberal system.  It is a question of an existential crisis: that of a humanity that promotes a style of living, of production and of consumerism that leads to ruin.  The situation calls for a radical social and economic transformation of our style of living, of economic and democratic structures, and of systems of production and consumption, as well as of a better distribution of riches to bring about a world that is more habitable, just, sober, and where there is solidarity, so as to protect the life of the Planet for future generations.

The situation calls for a social and economic transformation, radical modes of life, economic and democratic structures, systems of production and consumption, as well as for a better distribution of wealth. This would bring about a world which is more habitable, more just, more sober and would result in more solidarity in order to protect the life of the planet for future generations This responsibility does not only lie with the various States, but with  every human being.

During the Paris Conference on climate change, the COP21, mention was often made of greenhouse gases (GHS) and of measures to reduce them and to mitigate the change. Yes, GHG are the major contributors to global warming, but during the Conference few have mentioned that the abundance of GHG is the result of the current economic model, which is the real cause of global warming. This economic system, which is centered on economic benefits rather than on the human person, is at the service of money and not of life.

The agreement adopted by the COP21 confirms the objective of maintaining the threshold of the increase in temperature to below 2 ° C , but it does not define the mechanisms and specific modalities to achieve this aim, leaving all this to the good will of the signatories. According to certain scientists, the voluntary efforts presented to the COP21 and the proposed solutions would limit the increase in temperature between 3-4 °C! Solutions such as Agro-ecology, which could absorb carbon, have been marginalized. However, the increase of temperatures beyond 2 ° C will irreversibly lead to an earth which is unsustainable for future generations. The only hope left is the pressure of society, hence of each one of us, on our countries. It is in this domain that we have our role to play in assuming our responsibility to promote life.

Facing the future, two different perspectives emerge

Envisaged solutions to deal with climate change globally highlight two perspectives:

On one hand there are social, ecological and other movements that make of the crisis an opportunity to invent and practice alternative ways of inhabiting the Earth and of living in society with values of solidarity, justice, cooperation, autonomy, respect and the equitable distribution of resources.”  These set the foundations for a future economy which restricts the use of natural resources according to the ability of the planet to regenerate itself, and which measure well-being rather than growth, which favour relations between human beings and the rest of creation, and which promote new modes of responsible personal, family and communal life where all can live and develop.

On the other hand, the economic forces, the industrial and financial lobbies, techno- scientific pressure groups, politicians and certain international institutions continue to promote ‘growth’ and to act as if nothing happened. They focus on « indefinite economic growth » and propose to replace the resources of the planet by the omnipotence of technology that enables nature to regenerate itself. Their omnipotence tends to appear as « the only alternative » to « save the climate and humanity ».

The time to act is now: it is a question of changing or of continuing in a way that leads nowhere. Are we going to place ourselves on the side of salvation through omnipotence or do we choose to join those movements which invent new ways of inhabiting the Earth, of cooperating with nature, and of welcoming the natural dimension of the human condition? As Christian religious MSOLA we have to make a choice for life!

The path towards a systemic change in politics and practices at local and global levels towards a society where the rights of the most vulnerable will be respected will be long and difficult. It will require courage to take difficult decisions, but the hope of a better future for all and the joy of already living in collaboration with others who are different, will give us the strength to continue the journey on this road.

Journeying on this road demands a commitment on our part to live simply, in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, to share our abundance and to develop a sense of respect and  responsibility for the earth in the way we use natural resources. To collaborate with this new society we need to unite with all those who are ready to move in this direction, with those who come from very diverse backgrounds and who have very different visions and interests. Many churches, religions and faith communities are committed to advance in this direction, as well as numerous groups of all sorts.  The great challenge is the coordination of all these movements.

MSOLA and the journey towards change

In the 1993 MSOLA Capitular Acts[1] there is already mention, with ever greater insistence, of  the need of taking care of the Earth and of the question of climate change. «Faced with the devastation of the planet… We ought to be among those who, as Lavigerie termed it, wish to “make the earth more beautiful”. Let us seek to cooperate with organizations which are working to save the earth (AC 1993). ‘ Increase awareness of the movement in the world regarding the care for creation and the use of natural resources, thus contributing to our world being a better place to live in, now and in the future.» (AC 2005). ‘We wish to express our solidarity with the whole of humanity and take part I the coming of the reconciled Creation which brings Christ to fulfilment….’ ‘. (AC 2011).

Cardinal Lavigerie and our sisters have lived a number of values which are necessary to advance along this road towards a new society that, we hope, will be a step forward towards the coming of the Kingdom:

  • Lavigerie was able to marvel at the grandeur of human nature.
  • When faced by the suffering of another human being he was filled with compassion         and ready to sacrifice all to ‘save’.
  • When he talks about ‘our Africa’, he has a holistic vision of the continent and of its        peoples. He invites us to love everything about it: its suffering, the wounds of slavery; its cries of pain throughout history, its great men, its saints, its passions, its energy, joys, its wisdom… ‘I loved everything in our Africa, its past, its future, its mountains, its pure skies, the broad lines of its deserts, the blue seas which bathe it.’

In our MSOLA culture and spirituality we have values that can help us to enter into the spirit and attitudes which are necessary to live the shift towards this new culture which is environmentally friendly, supportive, inclusive, and diverse and which includes all human beings and all creatures of Planet Earth:

  • Meeting the needs of the mission has been one of the characteristics of our sisters.
  • Dignity and respect for everyone, Christian values which has been transmitted to us by Cardinal Lavigerie , as well as interdependence,  which enable us to live solidarity.

.       Openness to diversity and collaboration with all prepare us to walk with different groups.

  • Living in intercultural communities; working and collaborating with people of other cultures and religions: numerous changes in our lives that have prepared us to live openness, change and the austerity that this new society demands.

.         The ‘All to all ‘ aspect which is essential to our MSOLA being, helps us to be inclusive and to work for the « Salvation » of ‘all’: humans and creatures of nature.

  • Our communal way of collaborating to the common mission will help us to play our part in the construction of this new culture of solidarity and sharing.

Each MSOLA carries within her the congregation and also humanity and is responsible for the life of the congregation and of humanity. The conviction of being co-creators with God and the call received to make life grow, urges us to live our responsibility towards our congregation and towards humanity so that this life can continue to grow, despite difficulties encountered on the way.

May we, following Jesus of Nazareth, and with the confidence that his call and presence give us, have the courage, faith and hope to undertake this journey, in a spirit of solidarity, towards a new, just and inclusive society which the situation of the world today invites us to bring about.

Begoña Iñarra, SMNDA

JPIC-ED Coordinator

[1] CA, 1993, page 34. CA 2005, page 114; CA 2011, page 20

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