The E-Journal of
Solidarity, Sustainability, and Nonviolence
Vol. 5, No. 3, March 2009|
Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor
CALL FOR PAPERS
SSNV INVITED ARTICLE
This month the SSNV journal is honored to reprint a recent article by Dr. Leonardo Boff, a Catholic liberation theologian from Brazil. The article is a reflection about the current, worldwide financial and ecological crises.
The indignation that millions of global citizens feel about this calamity resounds in Boff's writing. The indignation is justified, for this is a crisis that was manufactured by irresponsible human hands. The repercussions of the crisis are still proliferating, and it is already clear that the poor of the world are the most affected. It is also clear that this will be a long recovery process, and one for which our children and grandchildren will have to pay. It is pathetic.
The human habitat is also bound to suffer additional deterioration. As Boff points out: "The philosopher Kant's dream of pax perpetua between all peoples is not enough. We urgently need a perennial peace agreement between everyone and Earth. We have already tormented her too much. We have to heal her wounds and care for her health. Only then will Earth and Humanity have a basically secure destiny."
The voice of God resounds in the events of history. Indeed, this crisis is entirely the fruit of human greed, and is by no means an "act of God." But the crisis may turn out to be a blessing in disguise if it brings about a new awareness that human solidarity is the only sensible way forward. This entails balancing self-interest and the common good, and also requires responsible stewardship of the human habitat. And we should be careful not to assign all the blame to Wall Street executives. Except for the very poor of the world, who has not been contaminated by the sin of consumerism?
Everybody Against Gaia
Former Professor of Systematic and Ecumenical Theology
Franciscan Theological Institute, Petrópolis, Brazil
Former Professor of Ethics, Philosophy of Religion and Ecology
State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Liberation theologian and author of more than sixty books in the areas of Theology, Spirituality, Philosophy, Anthropology and Mysticism
Articles by Leonardo Boff, 2 January 2009
Leonardo Boff Web Site
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
The financial and economic cataclysm — fruit of greed and lies — conceals a Via Crucis
of suffering for the millions of people who lost their savings, their
houses and their jobs. Who speaks of them? The truly guilty meet more
to salvage and correct the system that guarantees their hegemony over
others than to find paths that are characterized by rationalism,
cooperation and compassion towards the victims and all humanity.
crisis exposes other crises that, like the sword of Damocles, hang over
the heads of everyone: the climate, energy, and food crises and more.
All of them go back to the crisis in the dominant paradigm. The
situation of general chaos raises metaphysical questions about the
meaning of the human being within the group of beings in evolution. At
the moment the "everything goes" of the postmodernists is silenced.
Whether they like it or not, there are things that have to have value,
there is meaning that must be preserved, otherwise we drown in the
coarsest cynicism, an expression of deep disdain for life.
has been a while since thinkers like Teilhard de Chardin or René Girard
noticed a certain excess of evil on the road of conscious evolution. I
quote a thought from Girard, a scholar of violence, who was among us in
1990 conversing with liberation theologians: "Everything appears to
prove that, for mysterious reasons that I am trying to understand, the
forces generating violence in the world are at a certain level stronger
than harmony and unity. This is the ever-present dimension of original
sin in that, beyond any mythical concept whatever, it is a name for the
violence in history." There is no reason to reject this somber verdict.
Only the thought of hope against all hope, of compassion and dreams
offers us a glimmer of light.
We also have to coexist
with the shadow side that we are beings with an immense capacity of
self destruction even to the last human being. Years ago, a German
study on wars in the history of the human race, quoted by Michel Serres
in his latest book Guerre mondiale ("World War", 2008), found
the following facts: from three thousand years ago to the present,
three billion eight hundred million human beings have been
assassinated, many in wars of total extermination. In the 20th century
alone, two hundred million people have died. How can we not honestly
question the nature of this complex contradictory creature — good angel
and Devil of the Earth — that is the human being?
we are experiencing an absolutely unheard of situation. It is the
collective war against Gaia. Up until the introduction of total war (totaler Krieg)
by Hitler, wars had their ritual: they were between armies. Then they
came to be between nations and peoples: the war of all against all. Now
it has intensified: it is the war of all against the world, against the
planet Gaia (bellum omnium contra Terram). This is what is
implied in our civilization paradigm that proposes to exploit and
extract, with technological violence, all the resources of planet
Earth. In effect, we are attacking Earth on all her fronts — the soil,
the undersoil, in the air, in the jungle, in the water, the oceans, and
outer space. What corner of Earth has not been the object of domination
and conquest by human beings?
There are wounds everywhere
— blood and wounds on our Mother Earth, who aches and cries out through
earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, the devastating flooding in Santa
Catalina and the terrifying droughts in the Northeast. They are signals
she is sending us. We must interpret them and change our behavior. We
will not win this war. Gaia is patient and long suffering. Let us hope
that she does not decide to rid herself of us in the next generations,
as she has done with other species in the past.
The philosopher Kant's dream of pax perpetua
between all peoples is not enough. We urgently need a perennial peace
agreement between everyone and Earth. We have already tormented her too
much. We have to heal her wounds and care for her health. Only then
will Earth and Humanity have a basically secure destiny.
Free translation from the Spanish provided by Anne Fullerton.
Copyright © 2009 by Leonardo Boff
| Link to Page 1 |
| Link to Page 2 |
|Link to the SSNV Home Page|
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leonardo Boff is well known as a champion of social and environmental justice in Latin America and elsewhere. He is a
liberation theologian and author of more than sixty books in the areas of Theology, Spirituality, Philosophy, Anthropology and Mysticism. According to the biography posted in his
web site, "for 22 years he was the professor of Systematic and Ecumenical Theology at the Franciscan Theological Institute in Petrópolis. He has served as a professor of Theology and Spirituality in various centers of higher learning and universities in Brazil and the rest of the world, in addition to being a visiting professor at the universities of Lisbon (Portugal), Salamanca (Spain), Harvard (United States), Basel (Switzerland), and Heidelberg (Germany)." His has been an illustrious career as professor, researcher, and activist. For more information, see the biography posted in his web site.
Feedback may be sent to
c/o Cristiano M. de Miranda
QUESTIONS FOR MEDITATION
What have I done to foster solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence?
What am I doing to foster solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence?
What shall I do to foster solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence?
"What we are doing to the forests of the world
is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing
to ourselves and to one another."
CALL FOR PAPERS
Both subscribers and nonsubscribers are cordially invited to submit a paper to be considered for publication in the SSNV e-journal as an "invited paper." It should be related to the journal's theme about solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence as the three pillars of sustainable development. Some suggested themes:
- Gender equality as a positive factor for sustainable development.
- Successful initiatives to foster solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence.
- Removal of obstacles for progress toward any or all the UN MDGs.
- Management of technologies for social and environmental justice.
- How to foster changes in human behavior that are conducive to SSNV.
Invited papers will be published in a separate web page (i.e., page 2 of a given issue). If you have friends who could submit a good paper, please invite them to do so. Papers from educators and students are highly desired.
Please email your papers to the SSNV Editor.