Our small reading group continues to tackle the challenges of this document. It can be discouraging reading, but it also urges us on to understand the current situation and look for solutions.
Chapter 4 has the ambiguous title “Integral Ecology”. But what the chapter describes is that the various crises the planet and its people face are all inter-related.
“We are faced not with two separate crisis, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis that is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand integrated approach to combat poverty, restore dignity to the excluded, and at the same time, protect nature.” Para. 139
What we do to one another effects the environment; and what we do to nature effects people, especially the poor and powerless, in many different ways.
The pope proposes a simple but challenging question. “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” But if we take this question seriously, it leads to other questions. “What is the purpose of our life in this world? […] What is the goal of our work and all our efforts?” and finally, “What need does the earth have of us?” These are hard questions but they are worth our attention and reflection.
Finally, our group keeps going back to our concern for the young adults we each know, and for young people as a whole. We see and admire your ideals. We all sense that, given current trends, you might be despairing that anything can be done. We look for your energy and want to try to affirm you in hope for our shared future.