Engaging the signs of the times: JUBIEE FOR THE EARTH: NEW RHYTHMS, NEW HOPE

OPENSPACE
SEPTEMBER 2020, Vol.13, no. 1/2

From September 1 to October 4, we celebrate the Season of Creation – a time to reflect on our relationship with the Earth. This year, the theme is “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”

In the Hebrew tradition, Jubilee is a time for righting our relationships with others – to free those held in captivity, to let the Earth rest and regenerate, and to ensure a just distribution of the Creator’s gifts so that all may have the means to live and thrive.

To help envision and discern what this may entail, this issue of OpenSpace draws on the reflections shared in three webinars held between May and June of this year tocelebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home.

In different ways, the pieces reflect on the challenge of changing the way we relate to one another and the wider Earth community, calling us to a deep metanoia – a change of heart, an ecological conversion.

In the first piece, I dialogue with Leonardo Boff, my friend and co-author of
The Tao of Liberation: Exploring the Ecology of Transformation (Orbis, 2009) and Ecology and the Theology of Nature (Concilium, 2018).

Leonardo has written more than seventy books on liberation theology, ecology, and spirituality. His influence on Laudato Si’ is evident in the idea first expressed in his writings of listening to “the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor” (LS 49).

Together, we dialogue on some of the key themes arising from Laudato Si’ including the ecological crisis, integral ecology, ecological conversion, and spirituality.

In Women Resisting Extractivism, Sherry Pictou, Bertha Zuniga Cáceres, and Elizabeth López Canelas reflect on how women – particularly Indigenous women – are often adversely and disproportionately affected by extractive industries such as mining, logging, and petroleum exploitation. At the same time, women often lead the resistance to destructive forms of “development” and promote an alternative vision of care and the sustenance of life.

In Just Transitions, Allie Rougeot and Mauricio López share their reflections on what a more just and sustainable society might look like and how we might move towards such a vision. John McCarthy, SJ then shares reflections on an ecological spirituality and the ways we speak about the more-than-human world.

At the end of this issue, you will find questions to guide dialogue using the forum process. If you would like to further explore these themes, see our guide On Care for our Common Home at http://tiny.cc/forumguides

All the articles are based on transcripts of the webinars available to view online at http://tiny.cc/JesuitForumTV. They have all been edited for clarity and brevity.

I wish to express my deep gratitude for all those who have contributed to this issue with their insights and reflections.

– Mark Hathaway, Executive Director


OPENSPACE is published by the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice.

To order extra copies, please send an email to contact@jesuitforum.ca
To subscribe to the electronic version, please visit our website: http://www.jesuitforum.ca


Post-covid-19: What cosmology and ethics to incorporate (IV)

The sustainable way of life is brought about by virtuous practices consistent with a sustainable mode of living. There are many virtues in a different possible world. I will be brief because I have already published three volumes with the title, “Virtues for a different possible world” (Sal Terrae 2005-2006). I mention 10 virtues, without detailing their content, because that would take us too far afield.
Virtues of a different possible, and necessary, world
The first virtue is essential caring. I call it essential because according to a philosophic tradition that came from the Romans, passed down through the centuries, which is best expressed by several authors, especially in Heidegger’s central nucleus of Time and Being. Caring, it is seen as the essence of the human being. It ts a precondition for the group of factors necessary for life. Without caring, life would never have arisen, nor could it survive. Some cosmologists, such as Brian Swimme and Stephan Hawking, viewed caring as the essential dynamic of the universe. Had the four fundamental energies lacked the subtle caring to act synergistically, we would not have the world we have. All life is dependent on caring. Because we are biologically imperfect beings, with no specialized organs, without the infinite care of our mothers, we could not have gotten out of our cribs and sought nourishment. We need the caring of others. All that we love, we also care for, and we love all that we care for. With respect to nature, this requires a relationship that is amicable, non aggressive and respectful of her limits.
The second virtue is the awareness of belonging to nature, to the Earth and the universe. We are part of a great Totality that surrounds us. We are the conscious and intelligent part of nature; we are that part of the Earth that feels, thinks, loves and venerates. This feeling of belonging fills us with respect, marvelous amazement and security.
The third virtue is solidarity and cooperation.  We are social beings who not only live, but coexist with others. We know from bio-anthropology that it was the solidarity and cooperation of our anthropoid ancestors that, by searching for food and bringing it for collective consumption, allowed them to rise to the top of the animal kingdom, and inaugurate the human world. Today, with respect to the coronavirus, what can save us is this solidarity and universal cooperation. Solidarity must begin with the least among us and the invisible. Otherwise, it is not universally inclusive.
The fourth virtue is collective responsibility. We discussed its meaning above. It is the moment of consciousness when each member of society understands the good and bad effects of their decisions and acts. The uncontrolled deforestation of the Amazon would be absolutely irresponsible because it would destroy the balance of the rains for vast regions and eliminate the biodiversity that is indispensable for the future of life. We need not mention nuclear war, whose deadly effects would eliminate all life, especially human life.
The fifth virtue is hospitality, as a duty and a right. Immanuel Kant was the first to present hospitality as both a duty and a right in his famous work, “In view of perpetual peace” (1795). Kant understood that the Earth belongs to all, because God did not gift any part of the Earth to anyone. The Earth belongs to all her inhabitants, who are free to go wherever they want. Wherever someone is found, it is everyone’s the duty to offer hospitality, as a sign of common belonging to the Earth; and we all have the right to be welcomed, without distinctions. To Kant, hospitality and respect for human rights would constitute the pillars of a world republic (Weltrepublik). This theme has great topicality, given the number of refugees and widespread discrimination against different groups. Hospitality is perhaps one of the most urgent virtues for the process of globalization, even though it is one of the least commonly practiced.
The sixth virtue is universal coexistence. Coexistence is a primary factor because we are all products of the coexistence of our parents. We are beings of relationships, which is to say, we do not simply live, but we coexist through our lives. We participate in the lives of others, their joys and sadness. However, for many it is difficult to coexist with those who are different, be it in ethnicity, religion, or political ideas. What is important is to be open to the exchange. That which is different always brings us something new that either benefits or challenges us. What we must never do is turn difference into inequality.  We can be humans of many different backgrounds, be it Brazilian, Kechua, Italian, Aymara, Japanese, Peruvian, Azstec, or Yanomami. Each form is human and has its dignity. Today, through the cybernetic mass media of communications, we open windows onto all people and cultures.  Knowing how to coexist with these differences opens new horizons and brings us into a form of communion with everyone. This coexistence also involves nature. We coexist with the landscape, the jungles, the birds and all other animals. It is not just to see the star filled skies, but to enter into communion with the stars, because we come from them and with them we are part of the great All. In fact, we are part of a community of common destiny with all of creation.
The seventh virtue is unconditional respect.Each being, no matter how small, has value in itself, independent of its usefulness to humans. Albert Schweitzer,the great Swiz physician who went to Gabon, Africa, to care for the lepers, profoundly developed the theme. For Schweitzer, respect is the most important basis of ethics, because it includes welcome, solidarity and love. We must start by respecting ourselves, maintaining dignified attitudes and manners that move others to respect us. It is important to respect all beings of creation, because they have value in themselves. They exist or live and deserve to exist or live. It Is especially valuable to respect all human person, because a human is a carrier of dignity, a sacred being with inalienable rights, regardless of their origin. We owe supreme respect for the sacred and to God, the intimate mystery of all things. We must venerate and bend our knees only before God, because only God deserves that attitude.
The eight virtue is social justice and fundamental equality for all. Justice is more than merely giving to each his or her own. Among humans, justice is love and the minimal respect we owe everyone else. Social justice requires guaranteeing the minimum to all persons, without creating privilege, and equally respecting their rights because we are all human beings and deserve to be humanely treated. Social inequality means social injustice and, theologically, it is an offense to the Creator and His sons and daughters. The major perversity that exists nowadays is perhaps that of leaving millions of people in misery, condemned to die before their time. The violence of social inequality and injustice has been revealed in In the age of this coronavirus, . While some people can safely live quarantined in their homes or apartments, the great majority of the poor are exposed to infection and often to death.
The ninth virtue is the tireless search for peace. Peace is one of the most longed for conditions, because given the type of society we have built, we live in constant competition, called on to consume and to exalt productivity. Peace does not exist by itself.  Peace is the fruit of values that must be lived out and bring peace as a result. One of the most certain ways of understanding peace comes to us from the Earthcharter, where is said: «Peace is the plenitude that results from correct relationships with one’s own self, with other persons, other cultures, other lives, the Earth and the Great All, of whom we are part» (n.16 f). As can be seen, peace is the result of adequate relationships and the fruit of social justice. Without these relationships and this justice we will only know a truce, but never a permanent peace.
The tenth virtue is the development of the spiritual meaning of life. Human beings have a corporal exterior through which we relate with the world and other people.  We also have a psychical interior where our passions, great dreams and our angels and demons are found in the architecture of desire. We must control our demons and lovingly cultivate our angels.  Only that way can we enjoy the equilibrium necessary for life.
But we also posses a depth, the dimension where the great questions of life reside: who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? What can we look for after this terrestrial life? What is the Supreme Energy that sustains the heavens and keeps our Common Home circling the Sun and maintains her always alive so that we may live? This is the spiritual dimension of the human being, with intangible values, such as unconditional love, trust in life, and courage to confront the unavoidable difficulties. We realize that the world is filled of meaning, that things are more than things, that they are messengers and have another invisible side. We intuit that there is a mysterious Presence that impregnates all things. The spiritual and religious traditions have called this Presence by a thousand names, without ever being able to totally decipher it. It is the mystery of the world that is sent to the Abyssal Mystery that makes that everything be what it is. Cultivating this space makes us more human, more humble, and roots us in a transcendent reality that is adequate to our infinite desire.
                              Conclusion: to simply be human
The conclusion we draw from these long reflections on the coronavirus 19 is: we must simply be humans, vulnerable, humble, connected with each other, part of nature and the conscious and spiritual part of the Earth with the mission of caring for the sacred inheritance we have received, Mother Earth, for us and future generations.
The last phrases of the Earthcharter are inspiring: «That our time be remembered by the awakening of a new reverence to life, by the firm commitment to achieve sustainability and to intensify the struggle for justice and peace, and for the joyful celebration of life».
*Leonardo Boff is an ecotheologian and has written, in three volumes, Virtues for another possible world,  (3 vol.), Sal Terrae, 2005-2006
  Free translation from the Spanish sent by

Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.

site: http://www.leonardobff.org  

Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.

Post-covid-19: What cosmology and ethics to incorporate (IV)

Post-covid-19: What cosmology and ethics to incorporate (IV)
The sustainable way of life is brought about by virtuous practices consistent with a sustainable mode of living. There are many virtues in a different possible world. I will be brief because I have already published three volumes with the title, “Virtues for a different possible world” (Sal Terrae 2005-2006). I mention 10 virtues, without detailing their content, because that would take us too far afield.
Virtues of a different possible, and necessary, world
The first virtue is essential caring. I call it essential because according to a philosophic tradition that came from the Romans, passed down through the centuries, which is best expressed by several authors, especially in Heidegger’s central nucleus of Time and Being. Caring, it is seen as the essence of the human being. It ts a precondition for the group of factors necessary for life. Without caring, life would never have arisen, nor could it survive. Some cosmologists, such as Brian Swimme and Stephan Hawking, viewed caring as the essential dynamic of the universe. Had the four fundamental energies lacked the subtle caring to act synergistically, we would not have the world we have. All life is dependent on caring. Because we are biologically imperfect beings, with no specialized organs, without the infinite care of our mothers, we could not have gotten out of our cribs and sought nourishment. We need the caring of others. All that we love, we also care for, and we love all that we care for. With respect to nature, this requires a relationship that is amicable, non aggressive and respectful of her limits.
The second virtue is the awareness of belonging to nature, to the Earth and the universe. We are part of a great Totality that surrounds us. We are the conscious and intelligent part of nature; we are that part of the Earth that feels, thinks, loves and venerates. This feeling of belonging fills us with respect, marvelous amazement and security.
The third virtue is solidarity and cooperation.  We are social beings who not only live, but coexist with others. We know from bio-anthropology that it was the solidarity and cooperation of our anthropoid ancestors that, by searching for food and bringing it for collective consumption, allowed them to rise to the top of the animal kingdom, and inaugurate the human world. Today, with respect to the coronavirus, what can save us is this solidarity and universal cooperation. Solidarity must begin with the least among us and the invisible. Otherwise, it is not universally inclusive.
The fourth virtue is collective responsibility. We discussed its meaning above. It is the moment of consciousness when each member of society understands the good and bad effects of their decisions and acts. The uncontrolled deforestation of the Amazon would be absolutely irresponsible because it would destroy the balance of the rains for vast regions and eliminate the biodiversity that is indispensable for the future of life. We need not mention nuclear war, whose deadly effects would eliminate all life, especially human life.
The fifth virtue is hospitality, as a duty and a right. Immanuel Kant was the first to present hospitality as both a duty and a right in his famous work, “In view of perpetual peace” (1795). Kant understood that the Earth belongs to all, because God did not gift any part of the Earth to anyone. The Earth belongs to all her inhabitants, who are free to go wherever they want. Wherever someone is found, it is everyone’s the duty to offer hospitality, as a sign of common belonging to the Earth; and we all have the right to be welcomed, without distinctions. To Kant, hospitality and respect for human rights would constitute the pillars of a world republic (Weltrepublik). This theme has great topicality, given the number of refugees and widespread discrimination against different groups. Hospitality is perhaps one of the most urgent virtues for the process of globalization, even though it is one of the least commonly practiced.
The sixth virtue is universal coexistence. Coexistence is a primary factor because we are all products of the coexistence of our parents. We are beings of relationships, which is to say, we do not simply live, but we coexist through our lives. We participate in the lives of others, their joys and sadness. However, for many it is difficult to coexist with those who are different, be it in ethnicity, religion, or political ideas. What is important is to be open to the exchange. That which is different always brings us something new that either benefits or challenges us. What we must never do is turn difference into inequality.  We can be humans of many different backgrounds, be it Brazilian, Kechua, Italian, Aymara, Wampanoag, Japanese, Peruvian, Aztec, or Yanomami. Each form is human and has its dignity. Today, through the cybernetic mass media of communications, we open windows onto all people and cultures.  Knowing how to coexist with these differences opens new horizons and brings us into a form of communion with everyone. This coexistence also involves nature. We coexist with the landscape, the jungles, the birds and all other animals. It is not just to see the star filled skies, but to enter into communion with the stars, because we come from them and with them we are part of the great All. In fact, we are part of a community of common destiny with all of creation.
The seventh virtue is unconditional respect.Each being, no matter how small, has value in itself, independent of its usefulness to humans. Albert Schweitzer,the great Swiz physician who went to Gabon, Africa, to care for the lepers, profoundly developed the theme. For Schweitzer, respect is the most important basis of ethics, because it includes welcome, solidarity and love. We must start by respecting ourselves, maintaining dignified attitudes and manners that move others to respect us. It is important to respect all beings of creation, because they have value in themselves. They exist or live and deserve to exist or live. It Is especially valuable to respect all human person, because a human is a carrier of dignity, a sacred being with inalienable rights, regardless of their origin. We owe supreme respect for the sacred and to God, the intimate mystery of all things. We must venerate and bend our knees only before God, because only God deserves that attitude.
The eight virtue is social justice and fundamental equality for all. Justice is more than merely giving to each his or her own. Among humans, justice is love and the minimal respect we owe everyone else. Social justice requires guaranteeing the minimum to all persons, without creating privilege, and equally respecting their rights because we are all human beings and deserve to be humanely treated. Social inequality means social injustice and, theologically, it is an offense to the Creator and His sons and daughters. The major perversity that exists nowadays is perhaps that of leaving millions of people in misery, condemned to die before their time. The violence of social inequality and injustice has been revealed in the age of this coronavirus. While some people can safely live quarantined in their homes or apartments, the great majority of the poor are exposed to infection and often to death.
The ninth virtue is the tireless search for peace. Peace is one of the most longed for conditions, because given the type of society we have built, we live in constant competition, called on to consume and to exalt productivity. Peace does not exist by itself.  Peace is the fruit of values that must be lived out and bring peace as a result. One of the most certain ways of understanding peace comes to us from the Earthcharter, where is said: «Peace is the plenitude that results from correct relationships with one’s own self, with other persons, other cultures, other lives, the Earth and the Great All, of whom we are part» (n.16 f). As can be seen, peace is the result of adequate relationships and the fruit of social justice. Without these relationships and this justice we will only know a truce, but never a permanent peace.
The tenth virtue is the development of the spiritual meaning of life. Human beings have a corporal exterior through which we relate with the world and other people.  We also have a psychical interior where our passions, great dreams and our angels and demons are found in the architecture of desire. We must control our demons and lovingly cultivate our angels.  Only that way can we enjoy the equilibrium necessary for life.
But we also posses a depth, the dimension where the great questions of life reside: who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? What can we look for after this terrestrial life? What is the Supreme Energy that sustains the heavens and keeps our Common Home circling the Sun and maintains her always alive so that we may live? This is the spiritual dimension of the human being, with intangible values, such as unconditional love, trust in life, and courage to confront the unavoidable difficulties. We realize that the world is filled of meaning, that things are more than things, that they are messengers and have another invisible side. We intuit that there is a mysterious Presence that impregnates all things. The spiritual and religious traditions have called this Presence by a thousand names, without ever being able to totally decipher it. It is the mystery of the world that is sent to the Abyssal Mystery that makes that everything be what it is. Cultivating this space makes us more human, more humble, and roots us in a transcendent reality that is adequate to our infinite desire.
Conclusion: to simply be human
The conclusion we draw from these long reflections on the coronavirus 19 is: we must simply be humans, vulnerable, humble, connected with each other, part of nature and the conscious and spiritual part of the Earth with the mission of caring for the sacred inheritance we have received, Mother Earth, for us and future generations.
The last phrases of the Earthcharter are inspiring: «That our time be remembered by the awakening of a new reverence to life, by the firm commitment to achieve sustainability and to intensify the struggle for justice and peace, and for the joyful celebration of life».
*Leonardo Boff is an ecotheologian and has written, in three volumes, Virtues for another possible world,  (3 vol.), Sal Terrae, 2005-2006

Post-covid-19: what cosmology and ethics incorporate? (I)

Post-covid-19: what cosmology and ethics incorporate? (I)
There is a terrible fact, the systemic attack that nature is realizing against humanity with a diminutive and invisible virus that is causing great concern and taking thousands of persons to death. Facing this true human is important to know what is our reaction to the pandemic? What is this pandemic effect on us? What lesson it teaches us? What cosmology (vision of the world) and what type of ethics (values and principles) lead us to develop? Surely we must learn all that we had to have learned before and we did not. We must had learned that we are part of nature and not its “lords and owners”(Descartes). There is an umbilical connection between the human being and nature. We come from the same cosmic dust  as all other beings and we are the conscious link of the chain of life.
The erosion of the “little god in the Earth’s” image
The modern myth that we are “the little god” in Earth and that we can dispose of her at our whim because she is an inert it without purpose has been destroyed. One of the fathers of the modern scientific method, Francis Bacon, said that we must treat nature as the henchmen of the inquisition treated their victims, torturing them until they gave all their secrets.
Through techno science we have carried out this method to the extreme, reaching the heart of matter and of life. This has been done with a furor without precedents to the point of having destroyed the sustainability of nature and consequently of the planet and of life. We have broken the natural pact that exist with the living Earth: she gives all that we need to live  and in exchange we ought to care for her, preserving her goods and services and giving her rest to restore all that we have taken from her for our life and progress.  We have done nothing of this.
For not having observed the Biblical precept of “protecting and care for the Garden of Eden, The Earth (Genesis 2,15)” and for threatening the ecological basis that sustain all life, she has counterattacked us with a powerful arm, the coronavirus 19. To face it, we have returned to the Middle Ages method that overcame its pandemics with strict social isolation. So that the frightened people, would get out to the streets, in the Munich municipal council (Marienplatz) an ingenious clock was built with dancers and cuckoos so that all would come to appreciate it, something that is still being done today.
The pandemic, that more than a crisis is the demand ofor a change of cosmology (the vision  of the world) and of the incorporation of an ethics with new values, posits us this question: we really want to avoid that nature send us even more lethal viruses that could decimate even the human species? This would be one of the ten that each day disappear forever. Do we want to run that risk?
Generalized unconscious of the ecological factor
Already in 1962, Northamerican biologist and writer Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring,  warned: “Is little probable that future generations tolerate our lack of prudent preoccupation for the integrity of the natural world that sustains all life… The question is if any civilization can continue a relentless war against life without destroying itself and without loosing the right to be called civilization“.
It sounds like a prophesy of the situation we are living at the planetary level. We have the impression that the majority of humanity, including the political leaders, do not demonstrate enough consciousness of the dangers we face with global warming, with the excessive proximity of our cities and, especially, of the massive agro-business that advances over the virgin nature and to the jungles that a being deforested. We are this way destroying the habitats of millions of viruses and bacteria that wind up being transferred to human beings. According to serious scientists, the coronavirus would not have come though a bat from a market in China, but, simply, from nature.
In the best hypothesis, coronavirus will force us to re-invent ourselves as humanity and to remodel of sustainable and inclusive form the unique Common Home that we have. If what dominated before would prevail, exacerbated to the extreme, then we would have to prepare for the worst.
Many are announcing a new destructive  austerity era in the post-coronavirus. The vultures of the past are already getting together  to return to the same stuff of the past and to impede significant changes. The interests of the financial capital and the lack of a consciousness on the part of those in power and even in great part of the academic knowledge about the gravity of the degradation of nature, do not let them learn anything from the thousands and thousands of dead human beings all over the world caused by the coronavírus.
They want to return to the austerity that is a politics of opportunists, caried out by opportunists, for the bnefit of opportunists. According to CEPAL is calculated that covid-19, due to such politics of austerity worst than before, will leave 215 millions of new poor people in Latin America. (cf. Carta Maior 13/05/2020) However, is good to remember that the life system has gone though several important extinctions (we are within the sixth) but it has always survived.
Life it would seem like –allow me a singular metaphor– a “plague” that no one until now has managed to exterminate. Because life is a blessed “plague”, linked to the mystery of the cosmogenesis and to that Basic Energy, mysterious and loving that presides over all the cosmic processes and also on ours.
Is imperative that we abandon the old paradigm of the will to power and domination over everything (the closed fist) towards a paradigm of caring for everything that exists and lives  (the extended hand) and of the collective co-responsibility.
Eric Hobsbawn wrote in the last paragraph of his 1995 book, The Era of the Extremes: A thing is clear. If humanity wants to have a recognizable future, it cannot be prolonging the past or the present. We will fail if we try to build the third millennia on that base. The price of the failure, this is, the alternative to the change of society is obscurity. (p.506).
This means that we cannot simply return to the situation previous to coronavirus, nor we can think to a return to the pre-iluminist past as the present Brazilian government and others of the extreme right want. (to be continued)
Leonardo Boff is an ecotheologian and philosopher who has written Option Earth: the solution for the Earth does not come from heaven, Record 2009.
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.