Laudato Si’ - #101
It would hardly be helpful to describe symptoms without acknowledging the human origins of the ecological crisis. A certain way of understanding human life and activity has gone awry, to the serious detriment of the world around us. Should we not pause and consider this? At this stage, I propose that we focus on the dominant technocratic paradigm and the place of human beings and of human action in the world.
We now begin Chapter three of Laudato Si’, “The human roots of the ecological crisis.” Pope Francis does not enter into the debate about whether or not humans play a role in bringing about the current ecological crisis. For him, the focus will be on what we will do about it. However, before we look at our responses, we need to come to terms with the root causes. What is it about our way of thinking, our world view that has brought us to this crisis? As Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” To change our thinking is very difficult; many of our assumptions are unconscious. Self-education and talking with others can help us become more aware. And of course, prayer.
Let us spend time this week to reflect on our assumptions or biases, both explicit and implicit. Here is a helpful resource that offers a reflection for each day of the week, helping us come to terms with our blind spots and assumptions: Learning How to See, from the Center for Action and Contemplation.
Poem by Michael Kleber-Diggs
Consider this poem. The speaker is a Black man walking in his neighborhood. Does any of it ring true for you?
Morning: walking my neighborhood, I come upon a colony
of ants busy at work. I take care not to step on any and miss
them all, then encounter up a ways a fellow traveler greeting
the day. I am frightening her. No. She is afraid of me.
Is she an introvert? Is she a neighbor? Is she just in from the ’burbs,
from the country? Is she scared of the inner city? Am I the inner city?
Is she racist? Shouldn’t I be the wary one? Or is she a survivor
like me? It can’t be what I’m wearing: khakis, a blue and white
checkered button-down shirt, and the nylon sandals I favor
because they’re comfortable, my feet can breathe in them.
Dear friends, I am the nicest man on earth.
And I want to shout, Morning! But just then a weaver or
carpenter, just then a pharaoh or fire of pavement, just
then a little black ant struggles by alone, alone. And
in that moment, I want us to give ourselves over
to industry, carry the weight of the day together, lighten
it. I want to be a part of a colony where I feel easy
walking around. Cool as the . . . breeze. Where
I can breathe, build structures sturdier and grander
than this—but the woman crosses to the other side
of the street, and I do what I usually do: retreat into
myself as far as I can, then send out whatever’s left.
Michael Kleber-Diggs teaches creative writing through the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop and at colleges and high schools in Minnesota. He’s a contributor to the book, There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis. His debut collection, Worldly Things, has been awarded the 2021 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize.