I tend to pray a lot when I fly. It’s not surprising to me that when I look out of an airplane window it’s easy to thing of God’s grace. Looking out at the blue oceans, green fields and snow topped mountains reminds me that while I do not worship the earth, I am thankful for its natural beauty.
On his recent trip to Brazil, Pope Francis sent a clear message when calling for:
“respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it be indiscriminately exploited but rather made into a garden.”
It’s a simple truth that we all live on, from and with the land. In the midst of scarce resources it is difficult to strike the right balance between preserving the natural resources at our disposal and reaping the benefits of their harvest. To be aware of that choice is a first important step.
And the choices are everywhere. When driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles I noticed the town of Coalinga (you can’t miss it) with its hundreds of thousands of cattle in their feedlots and the unbelievable stench that goes on for miles and miles. I can only imagine what the cattle plantations are like further south of the US border. I certainly don’t want to give up a good USDA, Brazilian or Argentinian steak once in a while, but seeing those cattle farms certainly reminded me of the enormous and sometimes wasteful appetite we have.
Many of the natural resources in Brazil and other (developing) economies are exploited to feed the consumption in more prosperous countries. When you consider the fact that many products are then re-imported at a premium price, you begin to understand why this development is not sustainable and the incentives for conservation so hard to achieve.
Pope Francis is not the first to bring attention to the fate of the Amazon rainforest, but he does go further in condemning a throw-away “culture of waste.” His statements do remind us, however, that it is the Earth which sustains our existence. I won’t wait until my next plane ride to pray for it’s sustainability. Thank God for Pope Francis’s example.