Reading Laudato Si’ #107
107. It can be said that many problems of today’s world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life. We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build.
Let us focus on this statement: “technological products are not neutral”. And let us consider as an example, the car. What is the “framework” created by our dependence upon the car? How has it conditioned our lifestyles and social possibilities?
When we have access to a car, we can go where we want and when we want. We can live farther away from work in ever expanding suburbs and bedroom communities – which can weaken our ties to local communities. Car use can impact our health through increased air pollution, noise pollution, and accidental deaths. In fact, it can even be dangerous to use alternative modes of transportation such as walking or bicycling. The car we own can impact our social standing and self-esteem. If you don’t own a car, what does that say about you? If your car is taken away, how do you feel? [More: Effects of the car on societies, Wikipedia]
Consider other technological products and how they shape our lives and our society. The cell phone? The computer? The refrigerator? The television? Do you remember what life was like before these “technological products” were everywhere? How has our society changed? Talk to others about this.
Addressing Climate Change
In the context of ecological spirituality theologians like Denis Edwards and Elizabeth Johnson use the phrase ”deep incarnation.” Let us reflect on the meaning of this expression.
The doctrine of Incarnation is at the heart of Christian theology. As the Word becomes flesh In the birth of Jesus, God becomes truly one with every member of the human family. Jesus experiences every aspect of what it means to be human, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Being fully human, he knows hunger and thirst, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain.
The Danish theologian, Niels Gregerson, expanded the concept of incarnation beyond the human, when he introduced the term “deep incarnation.” Deep incarnation means that God becoming flesh is not restricted to the human, but includes all fleshly life, that is, the entire universe. In becoming flesh God embraces all creatures, enters into the tissue of all biological life, becomes part of an ecosystem in which all things are connected.
Denis Edwards reminds us: “We need to think of God-with-us in the sense of God-with-all-living-things…. The flesh of Jesus is part of the whole creaturely pattern of life on Earth. When the Word is made flesh, God embraces the long, interconnected history of life in all its complexity and diversity (Ecology at the Heart of Faith 60). ”
And Christ’s death on the cross redeems all creation. The letter to the Colossians tells us that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (3:19-20).”
Sustainable Development in Haiti
Haitians rushing to secure passports
“Hundreds of Haitians are flocking daily to the sole immigration office in Port-au-Prince, pressing against the bright blue gate as they strain to hear whether their name is called, hoping they will soon be chosen to live legally in the U.S. under a new immigration plan.
“The crowd has swelled ever since U.S. President Joe Biden announced Thursday January 5 that the U.S. will accept 30,000 people a month from Haiti, Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela.” Read the full story: “Haitians seizing on legal path to US rush to secure passport”, By Evens Sanon, AP News, January 11, 2023
Promoting Justice for Migrants
Crossing into Canada at Roxham Road
Have you heard of Roxham Road? New York City has. New York City has an ongoing migrant crisis because southern US border states have been bussing newly arrived migrants to New York. New York in turn is sending migrants who are willing to go somewhere else on to other locations. “The New York Post has reported that migrants in New York City are being given free bus tickets to Plattsburgh, New York state, about 20 miles (32km) south of the Canadian border. From there, they pay taxis and shuttles to take them to Quebec.” [source: BBC]
Roxham Road is an unofficial border crossing south of Montreal; it is used by thousands of asylum seekers every year. In December, nearly 4,700 people entered Canada through Roxham Road. According to the province, 60,000 asylum seekers entered Quebec in 2022.
Why Roxham Road? Because of a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement. The Agreement, signed in 2002 between Canada and the United States, states that migrants must submit asylum application in the first of the two countries they enter and cannot try a second time at an official border crossing. Roxham Road is not an official border crossing. Once in Canada, people have the right to claim refugee status. Read more at CBC.
Ending Human Trafficking
Human traffickers and online gaming
A recent approach human traffickers use to recruit new victims is using online video games. Traffickers pose as peers playing video games with children and teens. The traffickers often compliment the child on their gaming abilities. Often, they will purchase in game rewards for the child to gain their trust. Eventually the trafficker will encourage the child to use another site that allows more private chats and the posting of pictures or videos. Through these sites, traffickers will arrange either to meet with the child or get the child to post nude pictures or videos. Parents can help to prevent this by following these tips shared by National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Black History Month
February is Black History Month in both the USA and Canada. The theme for 2023 in the USA is “Black Resistance” (ASALH). African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression and discrimination in many ways. One example is the person who started Black History Week in 1926, the “Father of Black History,” Carter G Woodson (1875-1950), the son of former slaves. He resisted suppression when despite many obstacles he obtained a good education and a PhD in history from Harvard University. Black History Week expanded to a month in 1970. Sisters of St. Joseph Brentwood have put together a Black History Month Calendar that profiles 28 individuals including former SSND Shawnee Daniels-Sykes. (Thank you to Shalom News North America for the tip!)
The theme for 2023 in Canada is “Ours to Tell.” The announcement was made January 21, the day Canadians commemorate the life and legacy of Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, the first Black Canadian to be a Member of Parliament, a Cabinet minister and the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. An advocate for racial equality, he believed in the power of education as an agent of social change. Black History Month was adopted in Canada in 2008.
We remember Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN, 1931-2005
Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN was murdered on February 12, 2005. She is a modern day martyr. Who would kill a Sister working with the poor in the Brazilian Amazon? Ranchers and loggers who wanted to stop her from organizing the poor landowners against the stealing of their land and the murders of their people.
Dorothy and other Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur ministered to the people in Brazil for over 40 years. They started schools, formed small Christian communities, taught people how to live sustainably on the land, liaised, and advocated for people’s land rights, etc. Upon her burial in Brazil, “Dorothy’s people” declared, “Sister Dorothy is not buried, she is planted!” Her words and her spirit continue living throughout the world today. Watch the video: The Student, the Nun, and the Amazon