Eat the world or safeguard the world?

“Eating the world” or “safeguarding the world” represent a metaphor, frequent in the mouths of indigenous leaders, questioning the paradigm of our civilization, whose violence has made them almost disappear. Now it has been called into question by Covid-19. The virus has struck like a bolt of lightning at the paradigm of “eating the world”, that is to say, limitlessly exploiting everything that exists in nature with the perspective of endless growth/enrichment.

The virus destroyed the mantras that sustain it: centrality of profit, achieved by the fiercest possible competition, accumulated privately, at the expense of the exploitation of natural resources. If we obeyed these mantras, we would surely be in bad shape. What is saving us is what is hidden and made invisible in the “eat the world” paradigm: life, solidarity, interdependence among all, and care for nature and for each other. It is the imperative paradigm of “safeguarding the world”.

This paradigm of “eating the world” has high ancestry. It comes from Athens in the 5th century BC when the critical spirit broke out and allowed us to perceive the intrinsic dynamics of the spirit, which is the breaking down of all limits and the search for the infinite, a purpose thought out by the great philosophers, by artists, appearing also in the tragedies of Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides, and practiced by politicians. It is no longer the “medén ágan” of the Temple of Delphi: “nothing in excess” but now it is the unlimited spatial expansion (creation of colonies and an empire) and the temporal expansion opening up to the endless future (unlimited forward perspective).

This project of “eating the world” took shape in Greece itself through the creation of the empire of Alexander the Great (356-323), who at the age of only 23 founded an empire that stretched from the Adriatic to the Indus River in India.

The “eating the world” deepened in the vast Roman Empire, strengthened in the modern colonial and industrial age, and culminated in the contemporary world with the globalization of Western techno-science, expanded to every corner of the planet. It is the empire of the unlimited, translated into the (illusory) purpose of capitalism/neoliberalism of unlimited growth towards the future. An example of this quest for unlimited growth is the fact that more energy resources have been burned in the last generation than in all previous generations of humanity. There is no place that has not been exploited for the accumulation of goods.

But now an insurmountable limit has appeared: the Earth limited as a planet, small, overpopulated, with limited goods and services, cannot support an unlimited project. On September 22, 2020, Earth and life sciences identified The Earth Overhoot. That is, the limit of the renewable natural goods and services that are basic to sustaining life. They have been exhausted. Consumerism, by not accepting limits, leads to violence, tearing from Mother Earth what she can no longer give. We are consuming the equivalent of one and a half Earths. The consequences of this extortion are shown in the reaction of an exhausted Mother Earth: the increase in global warming, the erosion of biodiversity (about one hundred thousand species eliminated per year and a million at risk), the loss of soil fertility, and increasing desertification, among other extreme events.

The crossing of some of the nine planetary boundaries (climate change, species extinction, ocean acidification, and others) can cause a systemic effect, knocking down all nine and thus inducing a collapse of our civilization.

The intrusion of Covid-19 has brought all militaristic powers to their knees, rendering weapons of mass destruction useless and ridiculous. The range of viruses foretold, if we do not change our destructive relationship with nature, could sacrifice several million people and thin the biosphere, essential for all life forms.

At present humanity is being gripped by metaphysical terror in the face of insurmountable limits and the possibility of the eventual end of the species. The intended Great Reset of the capital system is illusory. The earth will make it fail.

It is in this dramatic context that the other paradigm of “safeguarding the world” emerges. It is raised in particular by indigenous leaders in Brazil like Ailton Krenak, Davi Kopenawa Yanomani, Sônia Guajajara, Renata Mchado Tupinambá, Cristine Takuá, Raoni Metuktire among others. For all of them there is a deep communion with nature, of which they feel a part. They do not need to think of the Earth as the Great Mother, Pachamam and Tonantzin, because they feel this way.  Naturally they safeguard the world because it is an extension of their own body.

The  deep ecology  and integral as set out in the Earth Charter (2000), Pope Francis’ encyclicals Laudato SI: how to care for our common home (2015) and Fratelli tutti (2020), and the World Council of Churches’ Justice, Peace, and the Preservation of the Created program, among other groups, assmembers “safeguarding the world.” The common purpose is to ensure the physical-chemical-ecological conditions that sustain and perpetuate life in all its forms, especially human life.

We are already into our sixth mass extinction and by the Anthropocene we are deepening it.If we do not read emotionally, with our hearts, the data from science about the threats to our survival, we will hardly engage to “safeguard the world”.

Severely warned Pope Francis in Fraterlli tutti: “either we all save ourselves together or no one is saved”(n.32). It is an almost desperate warning if we do not want to “swell the ranks of those who are heading for the grave” (S. Bauman).

Let us take the leap of faith and believe what is said in the Book of Wisdom: “God is the passionate lover of life” (11:26). If this is so, He will not allow us to disappear so miserably from the face of the earth. So we believe and so we hope.

Leonardo Boff wrote: Caring for the Earth-Protecting Life: How to avoid the end of the world, Record 2010; Covid-19, Mother Earth Strikes Back: Warnings from the Pandemic, Vozes 2020.

This Holy Thursday there is a criminal lack of table fellowship among humans

Holy Thursday, the Lord’s Supper, reminds us of table fellowship, denied to the millions starving today in Brazil and in the world, as a consequence of the Covid-19 intrusion. Unfortunately, it is evident that there is a painful absence of solidarity in the face of the hungry masses, which prevents us from eating together (commensality).

One of the merits of MST (Movement of Landless People) is that it has organized itself in all its settlements according to the ethics of solidarity among its members and even with those outside its settlements also. They are exemplary in sharing the ecologically grown food they have with many food parcels distributed to thousands of families on the peripheries of our cities. They practice one of humanity’s most ancient dreams: commensality, that is, everyone can eat sufficiently and eat together, sitting around a table and enjoying companionship and the fruits of the generous Mother Earth.

Food is more than a material object. It is a sacrament and symbol of the generosity of Mother Earth, which together with human labour, provides us with everything we need. It is not about nutrition but communion with nature and with others with whom we share bread. In the context of the common table, food is appreciated and spoken about. The greatest joy of the cooks who prepare the food is to perceive the satisfaction of those who eat and enjoy it. An important gesture at the table is to serve or pass the food on to the other. Civilized behaviour facilitates everyone helping himself or herself, ensuring that there is enough food for everyone.

Contemporary culture has so modified the logic of daily routines, turning them into functions of work and productivity that it has weakened the symbolic reference of the table. It was reserved for Sundays or for special moments of celebration or birthdays when family members met and sat down together. But, as a rule, it is no longer the point of permanent convergence of the family.

The family table has been replaced by other tables, absolutely desecrated: the negotiation table, the games table, discussion and debate tables, a currency exchange table and a table for the conciliation of interests, among others. Even though they are desecrated, these various tables have an undeniable reference: they are a meeting place for people, no matter what interests lead them to sit at that table. They sit at the table for exchange, negotiation, consultation and compose solutions that please the involved parties. But leaving the table can also mean the failure of the negotiation and the recognition of the conflict of interests.

Despite this difficult dialectic, it is important to reserve time for the table in its full sense of coexistence and the satisfaction of being able to eat together. It is one of the perennial sources of reconstructing our essence as relational beings. How this is denied today to the poor and hungry!

Let us recover a little the memory of table fellowship present in all cultures and practiced by Jesus at the Last Supper with his apostles.

Let us start with the Judeo-Christian culture because it is more familiar to us. There is a central theme – the Kingdom of God, the principle content of Jesus’ message – which is represented by a banquet to which everyone is invited.

Everyone, regardless of their moral situation, sits at the table and is welcomed. The Master says: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who prepared a banquet for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call the guests and said to them “go to the crossroads and invite everyone you meet to the party. The servants went out along the pathways and gathered all they found, bad and good, and the room was full of guests ”(Mt 22,2-3; 9-10).

Another memory comes to us from the East. In it, eating together, in solidarity with one another, represents the supreme human fulfillment, called heaven. The reverse, the desire to eat, but selfishly, each one for himself, demonstrates the supreme human frustration, called hell.

There is a legend that says “A disciple asked the Seer:

-Master, what is the difference between Heaven, with its fellowship between everyone and its opposite?

The Seer replied:

– “The difference is very small but has serious consequences.

-“I saw diners sitting at the table where there was a very large bowl of rice. Everyone was hungry, almost starving. Everyone tried, but could not get close to the rice. Attached to their hands they had long forks of more than a meter in length, they tried to bring the rice to their own mouths, individually. As much as they tried, they did not succeed because the forks were too long. And so hungry and lonely they remained malnourished because of an insatiable and endless hunger. This was hell, the denial of all table fellowship.

-“I saw another wonderful scenario,” said the Seer. People sitting at the table around a large bowl of steaming rice. Everyone was hungry. But a wonderful thing happened! Each took the rice and lifted it up to the other’s mouth. They served each other in immense cordiality. Together and in solidarity. Everyone fed each other. They felt like brothers and sisters at the big table as it says in the Tao.

And that was heaven, the full table fellowship of the sons and daughters of the Earth.

This parable needs no comment. Unfortunately today, in the time of Covid-19, a large part of humanity is hungry and desperate because there are very few people who extend their forks to satisfy each other with the abundant food on the Earth´s table. The wealthy privately own this food and eat alone without looking at who is excluded. There is a criminal lack of fellowship among humans. That is why we are so lacking in humanity. But social isolation creates the opportunity for us to review our individualistic practices and discover fraternity without borders and table fellowship: everyone can eat and eat together.

* Leonardo Boff is a theologian and philosopher. Author, among other books, of Commensality: Eating and drinking together and living in peace (Vozes).

Carta aberta à humanidade

Este texto, elaborado por várias mãos e cabeças, é fruto do desamparo. A pandemia está matando nosso povo. Não sabemos a quem recorrer, pois aqueles que poderiam fazer algo não o fazem, por misteriosos desíggnios que suspeitamos quais sejam. A dizimação do nosso povo equivale a 6 guerras do Paraguai, na qual morreram 50 mil soldados brasileiros. Não podemos assistir sem indignação e sem fazer nada face à essa guerra interna, cujo inimigo está dentro de nosso país e ocupando o mais alto cargo da nação. Mas existe a humanidade que ainda tem “humanidade”em nome da qual recorremos. Nosso temor reside em que o instinto de morte de nosso presidente queira a partir do Brasil afetar toda a humanidade e mais diretamente nossos vizinhos com o vírus amazônico altamente perigoso. Já invadiu todo o país e chegou já aos USA. Trata-se de salvar vidas e a própria humanidade sob risco de não conseguir se regenerar. totalmente. É a razão ética e humanitária que nos moveu a publicar esta manifesto, traduzido em várias línguas. Pedimos que o subscrevam para criar as condições políticas para encontrar alguém que preza a vida, não exalta a violência nem é indiferente face à morte de milhares de nossos compatriotas. Não há mais lenços para enxugar tantas lágrimas, nem mais a possiblidade de um último adeus.Repetindo um bispo franciscano escocês do século XIII contra a demasiada extorsão dos impostos: não aceitamos, nos recusamos e nos rebelamos contra essa situação inimiga da vida. Leonardo Boff

Adesão  por:

This text was done collectively and has already received support from Bishop Mauro Morelli, Father Júlio Lancellotti, Leonardo Boff, Chico Buarque de Holanda, Carol Proner, Zélia Ducan,Michael Löwy, Eric Nepomuceno,Ladislau Dawbor, Frei Betto, Yves Lesbaupin, Regina Zappa and others


“We live in dark times, where the worst people have lost their fear and the best have lost hope.” Hannah Arendt
Brazil screams for help.
Brazilian women and Brazilian men committed to life are being held hostage by the genocidal Jair Bolsonaro, who holds the presidency of Brazil, along with a gang of fanatics driven by fascist irrationality.
This man without humanity denies science, life, protection of the environment and compassion. Hatred of others is his reason for exercising power.
Brazil today suffers from the intentional collapse of the health system. The neglect of vaccination and basic preventive measures, the encouragement of crowd-gathering and breaking confinement, combined with the total absence of a health policy, create the ideal environment for new mutations of the virus and endanger all of humanity. We watch in horror the systematic extermination of our people, especially the poor, quilombolas (communities of former slaves) and indigenous peoples.
We have become an “open-air gas chamber”.
Bolsonaro’s monstrous genocidal government has gone from being just a threat to Brazil to becoming a truly global threat.
We appeal to our national institutions – STF (Supreme Court), OAB (Organization of Brazilian Lawyers), the National Congress, CNBB (the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops) – and to the United Nations. We urge the International Criminal Court (ICC) to condemn the genocidal policy of this government that threatens civilization.
Life above all else!

For sigantures


«Nous vivons à une époque sombre, où les pires personnes ont perdu leur peur et les meilleures ont perdu espoir». Hanna Arendt

Le Brésil crie à l’aide.

Les brésiliennes et brésiliens engagés dans la vie sont retenus en otage par le génocidaire Jair Bolsonaro, qui détient la présidence du Brésil, avec un gang de fanatiques poussés par l’irrationalité fasciste.

Cet homme sans humanité nie la science, la vie, la protection de l’environnement et la compassion. La haine de l’autre est la raison pour laquelle il exerce le pouvoir.

Le Brésil souffre aujourd’hui de l’effondrement intentionnel du système de santé. L’abandon de la vaccination et des mesures de prévention de base, l’encouragement à l’agglomération et la rupture du confinement, combinés à l’absence totale de politique de santé, créent l’environnement idéal pour de nouvelles mutations du virus et mettent en danger l’humanité toute entière. Nous avons assisté avec horreur à l’extermination systématique de notre population, en particulier des pauvres, des quilombolas et des autochtones.

Nous sommes devenus une «chambre à gaz» à ciel ouvert.

Le gouvernement génocidaire monstrueux de Bolsonaro est passé d’une simple menace pour le Brésil à une menace mondiale.

Nous lançons un appel aux organismes nationaux – STF, OAB, Congrès national, CNBB – et aux Nations Unies. Nous exhortons la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) à condamner de toute urgence la politique génocidaire de ce gouvernement qui menace la civilisation.

La vie avant tout

Pour les abonements


“Vivimos en tiempos oscuros, donde las peores personas han perdido el miedo y las mejores han perdido la esperanza”. Hannah Arendt

Brasil pide ayuda a gritos.

Brasileños y brasileños comprometidos con la vida son rehenes del genocida Jair Bolsonaro, que ostenta la presidencia de Brasil, junto con una banda de fanáticos impulsados ​​por la irracionalidad fascista.

Este hombre sin humanidad niega la ciencia, la vida, la protección del medio ambiente y la compasión. El odio al otro es su razón para ejercer el poder.

Brasil sufre hoy el colapso intencional del sistema de salud. El descuido de la vacunación y las medidas preventivas básicas, el fomento de la aglomeración y la ruptura del confinamiento, sumado a la ausencia total de una política de salud, crean el ambiente ideal para nuevas mutaciones del virus y ponen en peligro a los países vecinos y a toda la población. Vimos con horror el exterminio sistemático de nuestra población, especialmente de los pobres, quilombolas e indígenas.

Brasil se há hecho una “camara de gas” a cielo abierto.

El monstruoso gobierno genocida de Bolsonaro pasó de ser solo una amenaza para Brasil a convertirse en una amenaza global.

Apelamos a los organismos nacionales – STF, OAB, Congreso Nacional, CNBB – ya la OSM y las Naciones Unidas. Instamos a la Corte Penal Internacional (CPI) a condenar urgentemente la política genocida de ese gobierno que amenaza a la civilización.

La vida sobre todo

Para suscripciones


 “Siamo stati in tempi bui nel quale lo cattivo uomo è senza paùra e lo buono è senza speranza”, Hannah Arendt

 Il Brasile chiede l’aiuto.

 Tutti i brasilani che hanno compromesso con la vita vivono come in ostaggio dal genocida Jair Bolsonaro, il presidente del Brasile che mantiene accanto a sé una banda di fanatici guidati dall’irrazionalità fascista.

 Quest’uomo senza il principio dell’umanità nega la scienza, la vita, la protezione dell’ambiente e la compassione. L’odio al prossimo è la ragione per esercitare il suo potere.

 Il Brasile oggi soffre del collasso intenzionale del sistema sanitario. La trascuratezza della vaccinazione e delle misure preventive di base, l’incoraggiamento dell’agglomerazione e la rottura del confinamento, insieme alla totale assenza di una politica sanitaria, constituiscono l’ambiente ideale a nuove mutazioni del virus e mettono in pericolo i paesi vicini e l’intera popolazione. L’umanità. Abbiamo assistito con l’orrore allo sterminio sistematico della nostra popolazione, in particolare dei poveri, dei quilombola e degli indigeni.

Il Brasile è diventato una “camera à gas” a cielo aperto.

 Il mostruoso governo genocida dal Bolsonaro non è più solo una minaccia al Brasile a diventare una minaccia globale.

 Facciamo appello agli organismi nazionali – STF (Supremo Tribunale Federale), OAB (Organizazzione degli avvocati del Brasile), Parlamento Nazionale, CNBB (Confederazione dei vescovi del Brasile) –  a la OMS e alle Nazioni Unite. Chiediamo urgenza alla Corte Penale internazionale (CPI) al condannare la politica genocida di quel governo che minaccia la civiltà.

 La vita prima di tutto.

Per sottoscrizioni

Dieser Text wurde gemeinsam verfasst und wurde bereits von Bischof Mauro Morelli, Pater Júlio Lancellotti, Leonardo Boff, Chico Buarque de Holanda, Carol Proner, Zélia Ducan, Michael Löwy, Eric Nepomuceno, Ladislau Dawbor, Frei Betto, Yves Lesbaupin und Regina Zappa unterstützt und andere tausennde.


“Wir leben in dunklen Zeiten, in denen die schlimmsten Menschen ihre Angst verloren haben und die besten die Hoffnung verloren haben.” Hannah Arendt

Brasilien schreit um Hilfe.

Brasilianerinen und Brasilianer, die sich dem Leben verschrieben haben, werden vom Völkermord Jair Bolsonaro, der die Präsidentschaft Brasiliens innehat, zusammen mit einer Bande von Fanatikern, die von faschistischer Irrationalität getrieben werden, als Geiseln gehalten.

Dieser Mann ohne Menschlichkeit leugnet Wissenschaft, Leben, Umweltschutz und Mitgefühl. Hass auf den anderen ist Ihr Grund, Macht auszuüben.

Brasilien leidet heute unter dem absichtlichen Zusammenbruch des Gesundheitssystems. Die Vernachlässigung von Impfungen und grundlegenden Präventionsmaßnahmen, die Förderung der Agglomeration und die Aufhebung der  sozialem Isolation in Verbindung mit dem völligen Fehlen einer Gesundheitspolitik schaffen das ideale Umfeld für neue Mutationen des Virus und gefährden alle benachbarten lateinamerikanischen Länder und die Menschheit. Wir beobachteten entsetzt die systematische Ausrottung unserer Bevölkerung, insbesondere der Armen, Quilombolas und Indianer.

Wir wurden eine “offene Gaskammer”.

Bolsonaros monströse Völkermordregierung entwickelte sich von einer bloßen Bedrohung für Brasilien zu einer globalen Bedrohung.

Wir appellieren an nationale Stellen – STF, OAB, National Congress, CNBB – an die WHO und die Vereinten Nationen. Wir fordern den Internationalen Strafgerichtshof (IStGH) dringend auf, die Völkermordpolitik dieser Regierung, die die Zivilisation bedroht, dringend zu verurteilen.

Das Leben über alles!

Fur Subscrition

Elegy of enslavement and liberation: day of the assassination of the negro Joao Alberto Freitas in Porto Alegre, on the day of the negro conscientiousness

Elegy of enslavement and of liberation

On this day, November 20th, 2020, when we celebrate the day of the negro conscience, a day of reflection against racism and of recognition of the dignity of the black population in Brazil (more than half the population), the negro Joao Alberto Freitas, forty years of age was cowardly assassinated, by beatings and suffocation, by two guards and a policeman in Porto Alegre. The scenes of death show unspeakable brutality and cowardice and all the racism present in sectors of society and how inhumane and cruel we can be.

In homage to Joao Alberto Freitas I republish a text of some time ago but which has lasting relevance.

The Passion of Christ continues through the centuries in the body of the crucified. Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world, as even one of his sisters or brothers may be hanging from a cross. Something similar happens among the bodhisatwas budists (the illuminated) who stop at the threshold of Nirvana to return to the world of pain – samsara – in solidarity with the suffering plants, animals and humans. Along these lines, the Catholic Church, in its Good Friday liturgy, puts these poignant words in the mouth of Christ: “What have I done to you, my chosen people? Tell me how I have hurt you! What more could I have done, how have I failed you? I brought you out of Egypt, I fed you with manna. I prepared for you a beautiful land , and you, made a cross for your king”.

Celebrating the abolition of slavery on May 13, 1888, we gave credence that it is not yet over. The passion of Christ continues in the passion of the black people. A second abolition is necessary, one from misery and from hunger. We can still hear the echo of the laments of enslavement and of liberation, coming from senzalas, today from the favelas around our cities.

The negro population still speaks to us in the form of a lament:
‘ My white brother, my white sister, my people: what have I done to you, how have I failed you? Answer me!

I inspired you with charged music and contagious rhythm . I taught you how to use the drum. It was I who gave you the rock and the jig of the samba. And you took what was mine, and you made it renowned, and you accumulated money from my compositions and gave me nothing back.

I came down from the hills and I showed you a world of dreams and of fraternity without barriers. I created multicolored fantasies and prepared for you the greatest festival in the world: I danced in the carnival for you. I made you happy and you applauded me. But soon you forgot me, sending me back to the hills, to the favelas, to the nude and crude world of unemployment, of hunger and of oppression.

My white brother, my white sister, my people, what have I done to you to be sad with me? Answer me!

I gave you as a legacy the daily dishes, the rice and the beans. And you received the rest, the feijoada and the vatapa, the typical Brazilian kitchen. And you left me hungry, You let my children die of starvation or with brains incurably affected, leaving them always as infants.

I was violently dragged from my native Africa. I lived the naval nightmares of the slave ships. I was made a thing, a piece, a slave. I was the nurse-maid for your children. I tended the fields, I planted tobacco and sugar cane. I did all the tasks. It was I who built the beautiful churches that all admired and the palaces where the owners of the slaves lived. And you called me lazy and jailed me for vagrancy. Due to the color of my skin you discriminated against me and treated me as forever a slave.

My white brother, my white sister, my people: what have I done that you put me down? Answer me!

I knew how to resist. I fled and founded quilombos: fraternal societies, without slaves, of people poor but free, black, mixed and white. Despite the whips on my backs I extended the cordiality and the sweetness to the Brazilian soul. You sent the captains to hunt me down like a pest, your destroyed my quilombos and still today you make sure that the misery that enslaves, continues to be true and effective.

I showed you what it means to be a living temple of God. And how to feel God in the body full of vim celebrated in rhythm, in dance and in foods. You repressed my religions calling them afro-Brazilian rites or simply folklore. Your invaded my yards, throwing salt and destroying our altars. Frequently you made macumba a police case. The majority of the kids killed on the outskirts between 18 and 24 are black, seen as negroes and suspects at the service of drug mafias. The majority of them are simply workers.

My white brother, my white sister, my people, what have I done against you? Tell me!

When with a lot of effort and sacrifice I make some headway in life, making a sweat-filled salary, buy my little house, educating my children, singing my samba, rooting for my favorite team, and being able to have a weekend beer with my friends, you say I am a black with a white soul, thus diminishing the value of our soul as worthy and hardworking negroes. And in competitions with all things being equal, you almost always favor a white person.

And when they think about politics that might bring reparations for historical perversity, permitting me what has always been denied me, to study and graduate in universities and technical school so as to better my life and my family, the majority of you yell: it is against the constitution, there’s a difference, it’s a social injustice.

My white brother, my white sister, my people: what have I done to anger you? Answer me!

My black brothers and sisters, on this 20th day of November, the day of Zumbi and of negro consciousness, I want to laud you all for surviving because the joy, the music and the dance is within you, despite all the sufferings that have been unjustly imposed upon you.

With much love and affection,

Leonardo Boff, theologian, philosopher and writer.