by Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR
In the last chapter of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis begins by acknowledging that “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change.” The path to change comes through education and spirituality.
“We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone,” he asserts. “This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life.”
The problem is that compulsive consumerism “leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume,” but “obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.”
“Yet, all is not lost,” believes Francis, “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning.” But this requires our taking an honest look at ourselves and changing our lifestyle.
Quoting the Earth Charter he asserts, “As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning. … Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.”…