Season of Creation and Global Youth Climate Action
As the Season of Creation comes to an end and the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi approaches, the Mercy World celebrates the beauty, wisdom and generosity of all Creation. The theme of the 2020 Season of Creation is ‘Jubilee for the Earth: New rhythms, new hope’, highlighting the radical new ways of living with Creation which are needed post-pandemic. During this time of renewal, we express gratitude, love and a commitment to care for all living things. The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of our shared nature and the interconnectedness of Earth and people. Weak, unsustainable and exploitative relationships between our healthcare systems, food production systems, transportation systems and socio-economic and political structures have been revealed. We must hear the cries of the Earth and those rendered poor and echo Pope Francis’ call to “strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family”.
As the pace of life slowed at the beginning of lockdown, many found a new sense of wonder, appreciation and escapism in the flourishing of the natural world. Yet, greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, extractive industries continue to degrade the land and pollute rivers, forests are burning and continue to be cut down at alarming rates. Our overproduction and overconsumption of natural resources has led us into an ‘ecological debt’. Having an ecological and caring perspective of our Common Home is vital to reverse the ‘ecological debt’ and reaffirm a commitment to environmental justice. We must promote relationships with Creation which are not built around power, profit and ownership. Wealth must be understood as a planet rich in biodiversity; where our relationships with our neighbours are honoured; where we are present within the reality of our Common Home; where the urgency of addressing the climate crisis is acknowledged. Failure to understand this perspective of wealth enables the exploitation of Earth and people in search of profits.
Youth worldwide empathise with and recognise climate change for the existential threat it poses to our Common Home and future generations. Youth continue to strike for climate action, in line with pandemic safety recommendations. Those unable to take to the streets have turned to digital activism, organising group Zoom calls and storming social media to raise awareness of the exploitative nature of the fossil fuel sector. Their resilience in adapting and continuing their fight for climate action, encompasses Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Sí for “swift and unified global action”.
Within Mercy International Association- Global Action’s recent publication “Hope in a Time of Pandemic: Responding to COVID-19 Through a Mercy Lens”, a Mercy Student from the United States reflected,
“Despite the past actions of generations, their current attitudes and the ongoing global pandemic, the lessons from the global response to it can and must also be applied to the climate crisis... As young people, we are asking older generations to begin to step up as we are now stepping up for you. Take the initiative, spare lives and act for the wellbeing of our shared planet. In order to fight coronavirus, we all have to be as healthy as possible. In order to fight the climate crisis, our Earth must be similarly healthy, and its inhabitants prepared to cultivate a united front against environmental injustice and exploitation.”
The International Youth Climate Podcast stresses the importance of adapting the market place to produce items which last for a lifetime and encourages us all to recycle, compost and demand a no waste lifestyle. Human waste disrupts both wildlife and sea life. We must be even more conscious of the impact of our waste during this time of pandemic, as the use of masks, disposal gloves and sanitary wipes have become part of our daily lives. These items are essential to stop people from contracting or spreading COVID-19. However, they are not recyclable or biodegradable and therefore, we must try to be more resourceful and make, wash, and reuse our own face covering to help reduce waste.
During lockdown, young people worldwide started online trends upcycling old clothes into masks and sharing them across their social media. Reducing our waste decreases pollution, impedes the growth of garbage in our oceans, prevents habitat loss and protects all of Creation. Upcycling, reusability and sustainability may seem like a new movement to many young people but it is “a concept that roots from indigenous traditions”. Youth embodying the traditions of indigenous communities gives us hope for the future of our Common Home, as it is from indigenous wisdom that we understand that the land does not belong to anyone and humans are but caretakers of it.
We cannot alone count on the will and generosity of youth striking for the future. Climate action must have an intergenerational and comprehensive approach addressing biodiversity, inequalities, systemic power imbalances, aggressive industrialisation and most importantly, urge ambitious political will. As Pope Francis stated in his September 2nd General Audience:
“One does not emerge from a crisis the same as before. The pandemic is a crisis. We emerge from a crisis either better or worse than before. It is up to us to choose. And solidarity is, indeed, a way of coming out of the crisis better, not with superficial changes.”
Points for Reflection:
- How can we continue to educate ourselves and each other about the ecological crises facing us and threatening life as we know it?
- How can we expand our ecological consciousness? What are some of the ways we continue to live unconscious of or unconcerned about waste, pollution, a “throw away culture,” overuse of resources, inequality and poverty?
Mercy World’s Call to Action:
- Continue to grow our ecological consciousness of the gift of Creation and the interconnectedness of our Common Home.
- Listen to the wisdom of faith and traditional knowledge, holding Earth as sacred.
- Lift up the voices of the youth and join them in encouraging the radical change that is needed to protect our planet.
- Encourage world leaders to strengthen multilateralism and be guided by faith and science to promote environmental integrity, respect for human rights and dignity, inclusivity, gender-responsivity, and justice.
For more information:
- Season of Creation Webinar: Learning from other young people of faith acting for climate - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9IEM1gDynw&pbjreload=101
- Trócaire: 100 Ways to implement Laudato Sí https://www.trocaire.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/100-ways-to-implement-laudato-si.pdf
- 2020 Season of Creation Catholic Liturgy Guide: https://ourcommonhome.org/media/docs/2020-Season-of-Creation-Liturgy-Guide-LISTEN.pdf
UNSG Youth Advisory Group on Climate Action https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2020/07/young-leaders-tapped-to-invigorate-uns-climate-action-plans-hold-leaders-to-account/
Messages to: Siobhan Golden - MGA Intern