Moral leadership

Posted April 28th, 2008 in Blog Comments Off on Moral leadership

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Just back from Ontario where I gave two addresses last Thursday in Waterdown as part of their Earth Day celebrations. I was invited by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Canadian Provinceand the events took place at their Motherhouse. Outreach for the event went throughout the community, including the Halton Catholic School District. One teacher brought her high school class. Other treachers, principles and vice-principles, many religious, and other great folks, attended.

I love doing these things because they give me such a spark of positive energy, such reason to hold on to hope, even as the future looks increasingly grim. These folks are very brave, willing to look at the reality and then commit to doing something, and living differently, in the face of it.

Around the Toronto/Burlington area, I was really struck at the pace of development, of exurban sprawl, upscale condos and townhouses spreading out across fields, woods and wetlands. Here is example of the powerful drivers in the economic system that make it so hard to stop this course towards ecosystem stresses and breakdowns.

And in the midst of this lifestyle, sincere and dedicated folks trying to figure out how to be in it, how to address it, how to slow it down, how to bring the promise of a future to the young people that were with us.

Meanwhile, before my talks, the sister who invited me handed me a copy of a new pastoral letter from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, entitled, Our Relationship with the Environment: The Need for Conversion. I was really struck by the prophetic nature of the statement, enough to include excerpts in my presentations. So I wanted to share this with you today. It is not often we hear such tough straight talk from religious leaders, and it provides more evidence of how urgent our situation is.

In their March 12 press statement about the letter, they summarize some of the changes required of us:

Regaining a sense of limit and adjusting our way of life to the planet’s available resources

Freeing ourselves of an œobsession to possess and consume and instead choosing œjoyful austerity or voluntary simplicity

Making personal efforts in favour of the environment

As you can imagine, we could not agree more. And more than a personal level, these things must also be done at the societal level.

Towards the latter part of the letter, the bishops addressed the young of our world, and I did too. I spoke directly to them to tell them how much I regret the damage my generation has done to the Earth, the damage we are passing on to them, and that we adults must begin to partner with them in recreating how humans live on the planet — for their sakes, and the sakes of their children and their children’s children.

They will not be able to live with the affluence so many of us assumed as birthright, here in our affluent western countries. In order to keep our integrity, to be able to look them in the eye, those of us who benefited so lavishly from the exploitation of the Earth must begin to relinquish our expections and our consumption-beyond-need so that they, and the poor of our planet, will have what they need for rich and dignified life.

[tags] Earth Day events, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Our Relationship with the Environment: The Need for Conversion, School Sisters of Notre Dame[/tags]

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