It is very heartening to hear about the many efforts being made by our IJS communities to answer the call of our 2019 Chapter to respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. It is so inspiring to read elsewhere in this website about our students in the Nicolas Barré School Complex in Yaounde (Cameroun) who have become eco-ambassadors in their fight against plastic pollution. They are also doing amazing work in the many ways the children are being taught how to grow their own food. In the UK, during one week in May, we are counting our plastic packaging waste and gathering evidence to show the government the true scale of the plastic problem. We now know that there is no longer any place on earth free from microplastics: They are to be found in the deepest parts of our oceans, on top of Mount Everest and in our own bloodstreams.
We had great hopes for COP 26 last November, 2021 but many were disappointed with the outcome. A recent report (February 2022) by UN scientists (IPCC) concluded that we have only ‘a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all’ and has confirmed that the impacts of the climate crisis are affecting the world’s poorest communities the most. This is particularly true in Africa, Asia and small island states. It is where the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor become one story.
The scientists state that it is not only fossil fuels but also the unsustainable use of natural resources, land, soil and water that are escalating the climate crisis and limiting communities’ abilities to adapt. Many big companies in Europe are contributing to the destruction of forests in their quest for gold, timber and beef. They are also responsible for the violation of workers’ rights in factories which make a lot of the clothes that we buy online or in the High Street. We know that we can all be more vigilant in the choices we make when buying, selling or investing, and in our modes of transport.
We can also increase our efforts to appreciate the wonder and beauty of all of creation and proclaim with the psalmist:
‘The heavens proclaim the glory of God,
And the firmament shows forth the work of his hands’ (Psalm 19)
Pope Francis reminds us: ‘Our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us…This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God had endowed her.’ (Laudato Si 1-2)
Let us continue to inspire one another by sharing our stories of how we are playing our part in caring for our common home.
Margaret Walsh IJS (April 2022)