Need or Greed ...

With Pope Francis dedicating his last encyclical, Laudato Si’, to ecology there has been increased attention on the environment these past few months.

In thinking through these issues recently I was reminded of the 1999 hit movie, The Matrix, when antagonist Agent Smith makes a startling and painfully accurate assessment of humanity:

Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move … and … multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread … There is another organism … that follows the same pattern … A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.”

Now, are we really a “virus” or “disease” or “a cancer”? No. But, can we act like it? Yes.

And, believe it or not, this issue of how we act regarding the environment is not a new issue. Over one hundred years ago President Theodore Roosevelt warned:

“ … cherish the natural resources … for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.

The bottom line is this, in our desire to consume more than we actually need – ie. last week’s blog on the amount of food we eat and waste — we forget how easily our consumption becomes destruction.

As we teach our students at St. Francis to be leaders, one of the most important components to that will be the ability to have a vision for the future, which requires us to think about the actions of today.

Our students understand two important aspects when it comes to environmentalism:

The first, is that that the environment is indeed to be used by humanity for the benefit of humanity. The second is that the environment is a resource for today and for future generations. (Genesis 1:28-30)

The environment is not in and of itself an entity with rights. However, we are entities that have a duty to the environment, a duty handed to us by God the Creator.

It is in this duty that we find the balance between the need for survival and the greed of consumption.

The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.” Pope John Paul II