Today, September 1, has been designated by Pope Francis as a day to pray for what I call the Salvation of the World.
I was just viewing part of a documentary on the encyclical composed by Pope Francis in 2015 called Laudato si’ (Praise be to You, My Lord). The words are taken from a composition by St. Francis of Assisi—“Canticle of Creation”—in which Francis praises all of creation’s handiwork by God from natural resources, to animal life, to human life. In essence, Pope Francis, drawing on this canticle, emphasizes how everyone and everything in this world is connected and interdependent.
Over the past several years, we have heard much about the importance of recycling. Why? Because all we need to do is walk around our neighborhoods and see evidence of waste. A can here, a plastic bottle there, wads of paper tossed carelessly from a passing vehicle “uglies” our neighborhood because they don’t belong there and, until someone removes these things or a stormy wind tosses them into another part of the neighborhood, they will remain.
Scroll through your facebook pages and you will probably come across a picture of an animal that has been abused, and maybe left to wander alone along streets and highways, searching for food and water, confused because the person who once provided these things is no longer around. I recently read of one story where a person was driving down a road, saw a dog being evicted from the car in front of them and the driver of that car leaving the scene. Fortunately, the person who saw this horrific action brought the dog home and cared for it.
Take the story of a wealthy landlord who owns several buildings and will evict tenants so he might “upgrade” the apartments into luxury condominiums in order to open them to wealthier populations who will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to own one of the condos. What happens to those who are evicted? Where do they go? How do they handle the uprooting of their families?
What do these examples have to do with the Pope’s encyclical? Everything.
Trashing the lands around us takes away from their beauty, their usefulness in providing food, the natural habitats that animals need to survive, our natural resources for materials needed for human habitation are a few reasons for recycling the throw-away items peppering our environment. Add to that, pictures showing tons of plastic bottles amid other forms of trash in our lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans. What was once beautiful and pleasant to observe is now ugly and tarnished.
What about the way animals are treated? If someone doesn’t care for the life of an animal, either domestic or wild, eventually that lack of care can transfer to treatment of other humans. It is a known fact that children who “delight” in torturing animals show a strong tendency to becoming serial killers in adulthood. This is not a definite pattern, but psychologists and psychiatrists, through their studies of human behavior, have given credence to that fact. Abortion is another very sensitive topic in the news today because of the recent Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. No matter a person’s view on the subject, human life is involved in some way, shape, or form.
Science and technology play very meaningful roles in our day-to-day concerns, and they have given us so many new ways to handle the way we live in the 21st century. But there again we have to be mindful about using them responsibly. Without a doubt, computerized living is here to stay. That is a positive. The negative is what has already happened to many unsuspecting people—hacking. Lives have been turned upside down because of hackers working their way into systems from high industrial complexes to the elderly living a meager existence.
What Pope Francis has done is try to make us aware that we are very capable of destroying this planet through selfishness and carelessness. Fixing what is wrong is not an individual accomplishment. It is everyone’s responsibility and to their advantage to take care and make every effort to maintain a safe and livable planet. Picking up that plastic bottle, (better not to throw it on the ground, but hold on to it and put it in a recycling receptacle), work with a group to clean up a trashy area, talk to others about what can be done, educate our children from their young ages to be responsible in their own ways, vote for responsible politicians who will work
with communities in ways to save each one’s corner of the earth are a few ways caring for the gift of God’s creation.
I’m hoping those who read this will respond with suggestions and ideas on caring for animals and how to counteract abusive situations because that is my topic for next week’s blogpost.