In Laudato Si, Pope Francis points to…
the moral imperative of assessing the impact of our every action and personal decision on the world around us.
But wait! Isn’t it the American way to live big and let others clean up the mess after us? I mean isn’t that why we have institutions and governments; why we pay over $200 every two months for water, sewer, and garbage and why we have Amazon.com, Uber, and Netflix?
Well to quote Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, “We’re not in Kansas anymore”. That is, the world has changed to the point where our actions matter more than perhaps they ever have. The reality is that our choices are impacting the lives of animals, plants, and people, both today and long into the future. Of course, it’s a tall order to consider the effect of each of your actions, but it’s the right thing to do.
Let me illustrate with a couple of timely examples. First, Halloween is upon us and many people love this holiday, but have you considered the carbon footprint of your decorations? I can order 1,000 square feet of “White Webbing Spooky Cobwebs” from Amazon.com for $10.99, including shipping. But how much carbon was expended in the manufacturing and delivery of that webbing? And how reusable is it? I would venture to guess not very. And if you are spreading this stuff outside on your trees and bushes, have you considered that birds and other animals can get caught in those webs and suffer and die from their entanglement? (See https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/fake-spider-webs-bird-deaths-danger).
A second example: this week at the Vatican, at the Synod on the Amazon (the real Amazon, not the company), the bishops pointed out that the destruction of the rain forests is fueled not just by the fires set by the ranchers, but by those in the west that are demanding more and more beef because the main reason that forests are cleared is to raise cattle. Additionally, demand for gold from the west keeps the price of gold high which causes illegal mining that poisons forests, streams, and wildlife with heavy metals like cyanide and mercury.
“No one can say, ‘I’m not responsible, it’s not my fault,” according to Synod attendee Bishop Karel Choennie of Paramaribo, Suriname. “We are all responsible.” (See https://www.ncronline.org/news/environment/we-are-all-responsible-bishop-urges-lifestyle-change-protect-amazon).
Won’t you take a moment to consider the impact of your choices?
Working together, we can help take care of our common home.
Paul & Suzanna Litwin