For the last two months, Catholics, Episcopals, Lutherans, and others without a church affiliation have been meeting to read and discuss Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality. Our consideration of the Pope’s call to action on this subject has generated a variety of “small” (local) and “big” ideas in response to climate change.
In this context, an initial step in any action is an understanding of the Pope’s scope of the problem. The concern is not simply about the destructive impact of global warming on the natural world and all those who live in it. Our impact on nature can be viewed and addressed in a variety of ways.
We can agree to buy less stuff wrapped in plastic, drive our cars less frequently, work to stop additional oil exploration in Alaska. In short, we can continue to do things that are already being done. Those worthy steps are not what the Pope is talking about. The Pope’s focus is not on protecting “Nature” but “Creation.”
The concept of “Creation” is a big one. Creation includes powder post beetles, black holes 150 million lightyears from earth, the guy living in a cardboard box under a bridge on I-5 and the cat sleeping on your bed. The Pope’s concern is for all of creation.
It can’t be divided into small pieces and addressed piecemeal. We’re talking about everything everywhere; all one thing.
In caring for Creation then, there are no “small” or ‘big” ideas or specific actions to be taken. The Pope suggests that an initial step in addressing climate change is a new understanding of our existence. We’re all part of creation. In reducing our individual global footprints, for example, we’re caring for our world, our community, ourselves. Any caring action on anyone’s part is addressing creation.
The Pope simply suggests that some caring action is mandatory. It’s time to pick a task and do it!
David W. Corbin