The future depends on us now

The COP26 in Glasgow disappointed in the central point: in the consensus about the mitigation of global warming because it still embraced the use of coal, although it is gradually being abolished as an energy source. But it had merit, never seen in the previous sessions of the 25 COPs. This time, without exception, the anthropogenic existence of climate change was admitted. The extreme events, the methane intrusion due to the melting of the permafrost and the polar ice caps, 20 times more harmful than CO2, the increasing erosion of biodiversity, the range of viruses such as Covid-19, the Earth Overshoot that frightens us every year, because the current consumption demands more than one and a half Earths (1, 75), which impedes its biocapacity, and the crossing of some of the 9 Planetary Bounderies that may jeopardize our civilizational experience, have bent the deniers who would rather defend their fortunes and capital than the life of the planet and our common future.

Such events have given rise to apocalyptic scenarios and a veritable metaphysical terror, in the sense that we fear for our survival on this planet. Many are the warnings of this eventuality on the part of renowned scientists and especially Pope Francis, who in his last encyclical, Fratelli tutti (2020), stated categorically: “we are in the same boat; either we all save ourselves or no one is saved” (n.34).

There is a heated worldwide dispute about how history will follow the post-pandemic. Several models are on the agenda. I think that the most radical ones should be discarded, because they are too cruel and anti-life, like the Great Reset. It is a despotic capitalism, suggested by the parasitic Prince Charles and taken up by the 0.1% of the world’s billionaires.

Also the tempting “Green Capitalism” that aims to cover the whole planet in green but never poses the question of social inequality that penalizes and claims millions of human lives. Acceptable and, in a way, promising are the eco-socialism and the Andean bien vivir y convivir. Both would be viable under the assumption of a global and pluralistic governance, willing to find global solutions to global problems such as pandemic and a minimum planetary order that would include everyone in the one Common House, also nature.

I believe that Pope Francis in Fratelli tutti presented some of the fundamental values from which we could project a paradigm that guarantees the future of the species and our civilization: a biocivilization centered on a fraternity without borders and a universal social friendship.

The first is to overcome the paradigm that has been in force for centuries, that of the human being as dominus (master and lord) who does not feel part of nature but dominates it with the instrument of technoscience. The second, to assume an alternative to dominus that would be frater: the human being, man and woman, brothers and sisters of each other and of all beings in nature because we all have a common origin, the humus of the Earth, because we are carriers of the same basic genetic code and because we feel part of nature. The third, activate the “principle of hope,” deeper than the virtue of hope, that inner impulse that knows no time or space and that is always present in the human being, leading him to indignation against social wrongs and the courage to transform them by projecting new worlds, viable utopias, and self-improvement.

The values will not be taken from the great narratives that have already been tried out, that of the Enlightenment, capitalism and socialism that resulted in the current systemic crisis, therefore, that did not achieve their purposes. It will drink from its own well, in the essential nature of the human being.

There he discovers that we are essentially beings of unlimited relationship, whose best expression resides in loving-kindness; beings of solidarity, which in the early days of hominization allowed us to make the leap from animality to humanity; beings of cooperation, for only together can we build our habitat, which takes place in coexistence, in society and in civilizations, in a word, in the general good-common; beings of care, for this defines human nature, of all living beings, and which also emerges as a cosmological constant: everything exists because all the factors subtly combined to erupt life, and as a sub-chapter of life, human life and the universe itself that without the due care of all the elements, would not allow us to be here writing about these things; spiritual beings, able to ask the most radical questions about why our existence, absolutely free, what is our place in the set of beings, to what destiny we are called and by the fact that we intuit that behind everything that exists and lives. Underneath lies a powerful and loving Energy (the Quantum Vacuum, the Energy of the background of the universe, or the Abyss that generates everything that exists?) with it we can establisch a relationshiep wit veneration and a silent reverence.

From these values, another possible and now necessary world can be forged. Logically, the passage from one paradigm to another will not happen overnight, and not without great difficulties, opposition, and crises. But we have no other alternative. As Eric Hobsbawm wrote in his “The Age of Extremes” (1995) on its last page: “We do not know where we are going. If humanity is to have a meaningful future, it cannot be by prolonging the past and the present. If we try to build the third millennium on this basis we will fail, and the price of failure, that is, the alternative to changing society, is darkness.

This is especially true for those who wish to revert to the old normality, which is perverse to the life of nature and to human life. We have to change, or else, as UN Secretary Antonio Guterrez said, when opening the work of COP26: “If we do not act now, we will be digging our own grave.

The future is today, as the 100,000 people at the parallel COP26 in Glasgow proclaimed. If we do not start guiding ourselves by the values mentioned above right now, we will be paving the way for an ecological-social disaster of unprecedented proportions. But I believe and hope, I hope and believe that the life drive, stronger than the death drive, will lead us to the necessary changes. We will live and still shine.

Leonardo Boff, philosopher and ecotheologist wrote: The painful birth of Mother Earth: a society of fraternity without borders and of social friendship,Vozes 2020.

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