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To preserve Pope Francis’ singular perspective: holistic ecology


Pope Francis has effected enormous change in the ecological discourse by moving from environmental ecology to holistic ecology. Holistic ecology includes socio-political, mental, cultural, educational, ethical, and spiritual ecology. The danger exists that this holistic vision may be assimilated into the usual environmental discourse, without noticing that all things, knowledge, and events are interrelated. That is, global warming results from industrial excesses, the poverty of large portions of humanity is related to the means of production, distribution and consumption, violence against the Earth and her ecosystems derives from the paradigm of domination that has underlain the predominant civilization for four centuries already, anthropocentrism is a consequence of the illusory belief that we own all things and that they only have meaning to the degree that they serve our pleasure.

That cosmology (groupings of ideas, values, projects, dreams and institutions) moves Pope Francis to say: “never have we offended and mistreated our Common Home as we have done in the last two centuries” (nº 53).

How can we overcome that dangerous path? Answers the Pope: “by changing direction,” and still more, with the disposition to “delineate great paths of dialogue that help us emerge from the spiral of self-destruction in which we are submerging ourselves (163). If we do nothing, we could encounter the worst. But the Pope trusts in the creative capacity of humans, who together will be able to formulate the great ideal: “a single world in a common project” (164).

The prevailing imperial vision of those who control the finances and destinies of world politics is very different: “Only one world and only one empire”.

To address the many critical aspects of our situation the Pope proposes holistic ecology. And he gives it the right foundation: “Given that all are intimately related and that the present problems require a vision that takes into account all the factors of the world crisis, I propose that we stop now to think of the different aspects of a holistic ecology that clearly incorporates the human and social dimensions” (137).

The theoretical proposal derives from the new cosmology, quantum physics, and the new biology, in a word, from the contemporary paradigm deriving from the theory of complexity and chaos (destructive and generative). Along those lines, Werner Heisenberg, one of the founders of quantum physics, would repeat: “all has to do with all, at all points and in all moments; all is relationship and nothing exists outside of the relationship”.

The Pope repeats this innumerable times, forming the tonus firmus of his statements. We find in nº 92 what is surely the most beautiful and poetic of his formulations: “All is related, and all human beings are together as brothers and sisters in a marvelous pilgrimage, intertwined by the love that God has for each and every one of His creatures and that also binds us, with tender love, to Brother Sun, to Sister Moon, to Brother River and to Mother Earth”.

That vision has existed for almost a century already, but could never insert itself into politics or the field of social and human problems. We all continue as hostages of the old paradigm that isolates problems and seeks a specific solution for each, without realizing that a solution for one can magnify another problem. For example, the problem of the soils’ infertility is addressed with chemical nutrients that, once used, penetrate the Earth into the water tables and aquifers, poisoning them.

The encyclical can serve as an educational instrument to help us make our own that inclusive and holistic vision. For example, as the encyclical affirms: “When one speaks of the «environment» particular mention is made of the relationship that exists between nature and the society that inhabits it. This makes us understand nature as something apart from us, or merely as the framework for our life. But we are included in her, we are part of nature” (139).

And it continues, giving us convincing examples: “The present analysis of the environmental problems is inseparable from the analysis of the human, family, labor, urban contexts, and the relationship of each person with him or herself, that creates a certain mode of relating with others and with the environment” [115].

If everything is relationship, then human health itself depends of the health of the Earth and her ecosystems. All events are intertwined, for better or worse. That is the texture of reality, neither opaque nor level, but complex and highly interrelated.

If we thought of our national problems as the interplay of inter-retro-relationships, we would not have so many contradictions between ministries and governmental actions. Pope Francis suggests paths that are certain and can free us from the anxious state in which we now find ourselves, facing our common future.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was right when he wrote in the 1930s: “the era of nation-states has already passed. The task before us, if we don’t perish, is to build the Earth.” Caring for the Earth with tender and fraternal affection in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi and Francis of Rome, we can continue “walking and singing” as the encyclical ends, filled with hope.

We still have a future, and we will shine.

Free translation from the Spanish by
Servicios Koinonia,

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  1. 11/07/2015 20:30

    ”When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world.
    I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below.
    There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us.

    This universal force is LOVE.
    When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force.

    Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it.
    Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others.

    Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals.

    For love we live and die.
    Love is God and God is Love.

    This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will.

    To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation.

    If instead of E = mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits.
    After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy…

    If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.
    Perhaps we are not yet ready to make a bomb of love, a device powerful enough to entirely destroy the hate, selfishness and greed that devastate the planet.

    However, each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released.
    When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear Lieserl, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life.

    I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it’s too late to apologize, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer! “.

    Your father Albert Einstein.

    A carta acima é de autoria de Albert Einstein, sua tradução :

    “Quando propuz a teoria da relatividade, muito poucos me entenderam, e o que revelarei agora, a ser transmitido à humanidade entra em conflito com a desentedimento e preconceito no mundo.
    Peço-lhes para guardar essas cartas tanto tempo quanto for necessário, anos, decadas, até que a sociedade se torne avançada o suficiente para aceitar o que explicarei abaixo.

    Existe uma força extremamente poderosa que, até o momento, para a qual a ciência não encontrou uma explicação formal. é uma força que inclui e governa todas as outras, e inclusive está por trás de todos os fenômenos que ocorrem no universo e não foi ainda identificada por nós.

    Esta força universal é o AMOR.
    Quando os cientistas procuraram por uma teoria unificada para o universo esqueceram a mais poderesa não visível delas.

    Amor é luz, que encanta aqueles que o dão e recebem.
    Amor é gravidade, pois faz com que algumas pessoas se sintam atraídas por outras.

    Amor é poder, pois multiplica o melhor que possuimos, permitindo que a humanidade não seja extinta por seu egoismo cego. Amor se desdobra e se revela.

    Por amor vivemos e morremos.
    Amor é Deus e Deus é amor.

    Esta força explica tudo e dá significado à vida. Esta vida é a variável que vimos ignorando por muito tempo, talvez porque temos medo de amar é a única energia no universo que o homem não se sente à vontade com ela, ainda.

    Para dar visibilidade ao amor, fiz uma simples substituição na minha mais famosa equação.

    Se ao invés de E = mc2, aceitarmos que tal energia para curar o mundo pode ser obtida através do amor multiplicado pelo quadrado da velocidade da luz, chegamos à conclusão que o amor é a força mais poderosa que existe, porque não tem limites.
    Depois das tentativas falhas da humanidade no uso e controle de outras forças do universo que se reverteram contra nós, urgente se faz que nos nutramos com outro tipo de energia…

    Se queremos que nossa espécie sobreviva, se queremos achar um setido na vida, se queremos salvar o mundo e todos os seres sencientes que o habitam, o amor é a única resposta.
    Talvez não estejamos prontos ainda para fazer uma bomba de amor, um artefato poderoso o suficiente para destruir o ódio, o egoísmo a avareza que devasta o planeta.

    Porém, cada indivíduo carrega dentro de si um pequeno porém poderoso gerador de amor cuja energia está esperando para ser liberada.

    Quando aprendermos a dar e receber esta energia universal, cara Lieserl, teremos demonstrado que o amor a tudo conquista, é capaz de transcender qualquer coisa e tudo, porque o amor é a quintescência da vida.

    Me arrependo profundamente de não ter sido capaz de expressar o que isso significa em meu coração, o qual bateu silenciosamente por você por toda minha vida. Talvez seja demasiado tarde te pedir perdão, mas o tempo é relativo, necessito te dizer que te amo e graças a você cheguei à resposta final ! “.

    De teu pai Albert Einstein.

    Ps.: sei que o tema da carta acima não se refere exatamente ao publicado mas… na falta de outro lugar…


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