Sister Elizabeth Geraghty provides reflection and excerpts from Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home)
The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labor on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests.
We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work.
Those who possess particular gifts for the advancement of science and technology should not be prevented from using their God given talents for the service of others. We need constantly to rethink the goals, effects, overall context and ethical limits of this human activity, which is a form of power involving considerable risks.
When technology disregards the great ethical principles, it ends up considering any practice whatsoever as licit.
Ecology studies the relationship between living organisms and the environment in which they develop. Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves, or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it. 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.
When we speak of “sustainable use” consideration must always be given to each ecosystem’s regenerative ability in its different areas and aspects.
Today, the analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human, family, work-related and urban contexts, nor from how individuals relate to themselves, which in turn leads to how they relate to others and to the environment.
Ecology also involves protecting the cultural treasures of humanity in the broadest sense. More specifically, it calls for greater attention to local cultures when studying environmental problems, favoring a dialogue between scientific-technical language and the language of the people. Culture is more than what we have inherited from the past; it is also a living, dynamic and participatory present reality, which cannot be excluded as we rethink the relationship between human beings and the environment.
Many intensive forms of environmental exploitation and degradation not only exhaust the resources which provide local communities with their livelihood, but also undo the social structures which, for a long time, shaped cultural identity and their sense of the meaning of life and community. It is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions … It is not enough to seek the beauty of design. More precious still is the service we offer to another kind of beauty: people’s quality of life, their adaptation to the environment, encounter and mutual assistance. Here too, we see how important it is that urban planning always take into consideration the views of those who will live in these areas.
Authentic development includes efforts to bring about an integral improvement in the quality of human life, and this entails considering the setting in which people live their lives.