The Pope has given us a valuable text for healthy living: Laudato Si'. In this encyclical, 10 important points can be retained as the 10 commandments of integral ecology.
1. Read the Bible again.
The texts of the Creation are sometimes necessary to understand our role as Guardian of the Earth. There is, of course, Genesis, but also Isaiah, Paul and the Psalms. Some passages have also been interpreted directly, such as Leviticus 25:2-5 (according to some, it refers to the practice of soil conservation) or even Exodus 23:12 (speaks of respect and gentleness towards animals).
Without repeating the entire theology of creation here, we ask what the great biblical stories say about creation and the relationship between human beings and the world. In the first account of the work of creation, in the book of Genesis, God's plan includes the creation of humanity. After the creation of the human being, it is said that "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Gen 1:31) - Laudato Si' 65
2. You will understand your role.
Soak up the texts to better realise. What next? We are not all the same and so we have to define what we are or what we want: some are school teachers and others engineers; some are good at DIY and gardening, others are good at listening and supporting; some have families and others are alone. Yet each of us has a role and must define it for ourselves according to our environment. For example, teachers can raise awareness, engineers can warn of risks and use the right materials. Cooking fans can start cooking seasonally, tinkerers can join a RepairCafé (1), those with families can join their children etc. It is up to you to find your place and your role.
The urgent challenge of safeguarding our common home includes the concern to unite the whole human family in the search for sustainable and integral development, because we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us, he never turns back in his plan of love, he does not repent of having created us. Humanity still has the capacity to work together to build our common home - Laudato Si' 13
3. You will question your way of life.
Look at ourselves and admit that we are wrong. Ask the right questions about how we live integral ecology (see previous blog post "integral ecology").
Examples of questions to ask ourselves (among many others):
- Do I sort my waste?
- Is the time I spend in the shower reasonable?
- Do I turn off the lights when I leave a room?
- Do I need to take the car to get the bread or the children to school?
- Do I smile at the homeless person begging?
- Do I listen to my friends and family?
This responsibility towards an earth that is God's implies that the human being, gifted with intelligence, respects the laws of nature and the delicate balance between the beings of this world, because "he commanded, they were created, he placed them forever and ever under a law that will never pass away - Laudato Si' 68
4. Place God at the centre of your life.
Be touched by ecology, without idolising Nature. In ecology, we often forget to give a place to spirituality, whatever our religion. To love Nature is to admit that there is something bigger and stronger than us. We, Catholics, believe in God the Creator. To him alone we owe the Creation. He is in the song of the birds, in the softness of the wind, in the chirping of a child, in the eyes of the poor.
We cannot have a spirituality that forgets the Almighty and Creator God. Otherwise, we would end up worshipping other worldly powers, or we would take the place of the Lord to the point of claiming to trample on the reality created by him, without knowing any limits. The best way to put human beings in their place, and to put an end to their pretensions to being an absolute dominator of the earth, is to propose the figure of a Father who is the creator and sole master of the world, because otherwise human beings will always tend to want to impose their own laws and interests on reality - Laudato Si' 75
5. Thou shalt listen to the other and help the poor.
This is one of the disasters of our society: we do not know how to listen. To listen fully to that friend who has asked to see us, without thinking about the shopping list or the project that the boss has just given us. Being "all-yes"; being there for the other person and hearing their need for presence. This doesn't make us shrinks or soul savers, but good friends. And sometimes it just makes us beautiful people: try smiling at people in the street, you'll see that they'll smile back and it warms the heart. And that person who is begging, we don't need to empty our bank account to feel light, a simple "hello" with a smile can bring him a little sweetness. To be that little joyful flame, open to others, to meeting, to talking.
We need to reinforce the awareness that we are one human family. There are no borders or political or social barriers that allow us to isolate ourselves, and for this very reason there is no room for the globalisation of indifference - Laudato Si' 52
6. Love yourself.
Love yourself, not to spend hours admiring yourself. Love yourself to the extent: we have a body and we must respect it. Even if we don't like this part of our face, if we have this defect, or if we don't have this skill. God loves us. He has made each of us like this, with different abilities and facilities in order to use them for the benefit of others.
The Bible teaches that every human being is created out of love, in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26). This statement shows us the great dignity of every human person, who "is not just something, but someone. He is capable of knowing himself, of possessing himself, and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons" - Laudato Si' 65
7. Thou shalt respect the Earth.
God, the Other, the Earth and me. This is where we can talk about earth ecology: sorting waste, respecting water, respecting creatures. It often seems excessive, but ask yourself why you need to crush snails and ants? Do you feel in danger from them? Every creature of God has a place and a role. Let's remember that Pope Francis has established the sin against creation! There is also respect for water, that precious good to which many people have no access. Respect for food by eating in season and from local producers rather than financing the Brazilian mafia for an avocado because "it's fashionable and all the bloggers put it on their plates" (2). There are many people on our social networks talking about zero waste, seasonal food, sobriety (as opposed to consumption). That's why I don't talk about it. Don't hesitate to go and find out more about it (Zero waste association present in almost every town, etc).
When we insist that the human being is the image of God, this should not lead us to forget that every creature has a function and that none is superfluous. The whole material universe is a language of God's love, of his infinite tenderness towards us. The soil, the water, the mountains, everything is God's caress - Laudato Si' 84
8. Come out of indifference.
To come out of indifference: to come out of our habits, our comfort and this society that drowns us with illusions. No, coffee is not responsible. No, tomatoes in winter are not healthy for us because they are full of pesticides and travel further than we do (3). Yes, the melting of the ice is underway and is releasing a gas that contributes to global warming: it's a vicious circle (4). Yes, in 30 years it will be the same temperature from Bordeaux to Rennes (5). Yes, it's cr*p. It's up to you to decide whether you want to run away from the disaster or face reality and change your lifestyle to help care for the planet.
Climate change is a global problem with serious environmental, social, economic, distributive and political implications, and is one of the major challenges facing humanity today. The worst consequences are likely to fall on developing countries in the coming decades. - Laudato Si' 25
Want to know more? Documentaries, series, short films and movies on the themes of capitalism, veganism, consumption, zero waste, climate emergency.
It's HERE: https://www.imagotv.fr/
9. Your personal and community life will change.
You don't go into ecology out of "fear" and pessimism. You enter into transition out of Love. Again? Yes, we keep saying it: creation is love, again and again! Now that you've asked yourself questions, now that you've realised the urgency of the climate, what can you change in your daily life? We are not asking you to flee to the forest to live in autarky, raising goats and living 100% autonomously (moreover, this is not Laudato Si's idea of living together). We are all different, urban or rural, alone or with our families, with different jobs. We must therefore look for the ecology that corresponds to us (to our needs, our limits) and to our way of life. Proposing to have a shared garden or to go and get vegetables from the farm for city dwellers can be complicated, so there are other alternatives like buying organic baskets. We are also told to consume "as before" especially in our bathroom. Yes and no. Some people can live like our grandparents did, because they have good basic skin and maybe good health. Not all of us can use solid toothpaste or put little product on our skin. We are much more fragile than our grandparents, and our skin is much more stressed on a daily basis. So we have to try, but not everything can work on us. Solid shampoo doesn't work for you? Can't you go to the farm and buy directly? So what? Society tries to make us feel guilty because we are always shown extremes: people who live 100% green and zero waste. But if that doesn't suit you, move on; you'll find something else! Integral ecology requires us to take into account our physical limitations and needs as well as our professional environment. Don't try to set the goals too high...
To speak of authentic development, we must ensure that an integral improvement in the quality of human life is achieved; and this implies analysing the space where people live. The environment that surrounds us influences the way we see life, feel and act. At the same time, in our room, in our house, in our workplace and in our neighbourhood, we use the environment to express our identity. We strive to adapt to the environment, and when an environment is disordered, chaotic or laden with visual and auditory pollution, the excess of stimuli challenges us to try to build an integrated and happy identity - Laudato Si' 147
10. What you reap, you shall sow.
Everything you learn, understand. Your experiences, your failures, your questionings. What you learn here about eco-spirituality. Sow it! You have harvested it, your heart has grown and your projects have evolved. It is your turn to carry the other.
Sow Love, Joy, and the seeds of transition.
Love, Pray, Sow.
Camille for God save the green
Sources and references:
1. Repair Café: https://repaircafe.org/fr/
2. The avocado; green gold and deadly poison:
- Netflix, Rotten series, season 2 episode 1: "the avocado war"
3. Tomatoes in winter, 0 nutrients and pollution:
4. Permafrost: melting ice, viruses and global warming:
5. Global warming: an emergency!