In the midst of a global pandemic our perception of what is important in the world around us can shift. Foreign holidays pale when compared to the freedom of being able to visit our families, and the appeal of a healthy natural environment gains relevance when we have the opportunity to experience it more.
We see the multiple crises unfolding around us in a different light at this time. The pandemic highlights the complexities of the interactions at play, and the lengths we can and must go to for solutions.
The emergencies we face are broad and varied but are also intrinsically linked. As stated in Laudato Si’: “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.” (LS139) As we work on reducing our social contacts and limit our exposure to this deadly virus we cannot forget about our natural environment. Figuring out how we can play our part in the climate and biodiversity crisis can be difficult in these times where mass gatherings – the traditional way of amplifying demands for action – are not possible.
Strength in diversity – How to get involved
Ecosystems that are more biodiverse are usually healthier. This truth holds when it comes to environmental action, both in the solutions we seek and the ways in which we go about demanding them. Laudato Si’ asserts that “Not everyone is called to engage directly in political life. Society is also enriched by a countless array of organizations which work to promote the common good and to defend the environment, whether natural or urban.” (LS232)
Different people are comfortable and confident engaging with Caring for Our Common Home in different ways – we just need to find them. These could be creating a garden that is a wildlife haven, cycling more, prayer and dialogue within communities or striking with the youth.
The Season of Creation, which is running from the 1st September to the 4th October can guide us through how to start on this journey. It is a time to “renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment together.” Parishes across Ireland, and globally, are encouraged to take practical action in caring for our common home. As Francis tell us: “Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.” (LS231)
As part of the series of events for the Season of Creation the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES), along with Jesuit institutions and networks from across the world have organised a Global Ignatian Prayer Vigil called “Breathing Together” which will take place tomorrow Friday 25th September 2020 marking an hour of prayer for the earth.
The vigil will reflect on the on the lungs of the planet: the Amazon, the Congo basin and the Asian forests, where personal stories from indigenous peoples will be shared with participants who stand in solidarity with them.
The 25th September also marks a Global Day of Climate Action organised by the Fridays for Future climate strikers. Laudato Si’ highlights the importance on intergenerational climate justice: “We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity.” (LS159) There are several events organised around Ireland which allow us to stand in solidarity both physically and in spirit.
I will not be able to stand with the youth of Ireland demanding climate action outside the Dáil tomorrow but my name will be written in chalk to represent my voice.
In this time of uncertainty and fear we need to take what action we can – be it covering our faces in respect for others or adding our voices – whether through the solidarity of a global prayer, or in chalk to symbolically stand alongside to the younger generation as they mobilise to demand climate action.