This final segment of the walk will be followed by, on March 30, two weeks from now, one more blog, given to offer an ‘epilogue’, or an ‘aftermath--it has been about 4 months since the completion of the reflection on the walk.
Station #5- I leave the First Nations University of Canada to head home, via the University of Regina, a thirty minute journey for giving careful thought to ways in which my behavior could change. How can I turn painful awareness into personal discomfort so that I might discover what can be done about what is happening to, our common home? I take to heart the direction found in Pope Francis’ framework for change. Change means coming to see things differently, think differently, develop new processes of education and ways of worshipping that are more life-giving. The search is on—what new habits does the current situation call for? I need to be a part of that dynamic which eventually will help to bring about new policies that will address the concern for life in our common home.
I must be encouraged by the thought that my efforts will make a difference.
I stop at the library at the University of Regina. This stop is for considering the strategies of those who have studied this matter in great depth. Drawing up new personal habits is not easy and will be on-going, but simple steps can be found. After my library reflections, it will be a one mile walk home, 20 more minutes to review…
My first reflection for change centers on financial speculation. If investments had positive impacts on the well-being of the human family, done within the confines of the laws that govern nature, all would be well. However, when society itself accepts the profit motive as the norm, systemic and globalized selfishness encourage activities that provoke cries from both the poor and the earth.
It is imperative to look to designing an economy that behaves differently. The empire of money must give way to a structure which keeps the dignity of the person at its center. Here one can turn to a way commonly referred to as an economy of communion. An economy of communion is a way of doing business in which everyone is able to act according to their true nature—people that are willing to collaborate in a sharing and caring way. We need an economy whose dynamics create bonds of fairness and sharing based on the understanding that when we give we gain, and when we take we lose.
An economy of communion employs a proper blend of ‘nesting’ and ‘networking’, even if this must find ways to insert itself into spaces found within the free market system. Nesting means that local people decide how to use local resources to respond to individual and communal needs. Networking refers to localities freely engaging with other jurisdictions in order to address shortages of resources. In this approach, based on ‘need’ of all and not on ‘profit’ for a few, desire for ecological justice and persistence in dialogue can establish, from below, and not imposed from above, the only kind of globalization of economies that humankind can afford.
Accordingly, the strategy needed to supply the food needed for eight or nine billion people won’t come from more centralized agribusinesses using better and better technologies. When the overriding pursuit is financial gain, it will be companies that develop technologies and involved in distributing food who will be the winners. Nor can we forget that in the global casino forum there are big winners among those speculating on food prices, making money whether prices are driven up or are allowed to fall. In this kind of financial free-for-all oversight of how to best include the most vulnerable is lost. It is therefore necessary to put monetary structures in place to insure that such can't be the case, that the poor don't need to suffer even more.
What specific actions can I take help to counter the dominance of the current economic system? I look carefully to the fall Action Program that Development and Peace has prepared. If you check the link below you will find four videos which will tell you how you can help to address concerns about family and community life, agribusiness, government policy and food security.
Also note, copied from Laudatio Si articles 112, 179 and 211, as shown below.
112. Yet we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral. Liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm does in fact happen sometimes, for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people’s concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering. Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it. An authentic humanity, calling for a new synthesis, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door. Will the promise last, in spite of everything, with all that is authentic rising up in stubborn resistance?
179 In some places, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensure local self-sufficiency and even the sale of surplus energy. This simple example shows that, while the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference. They are able to instill a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. They are also concerned about what they will eventually leave to their children and grandchildren.
211. Only by cultivating sound virtues will people be able to make a selfless ecological commitment. A person who could afford to spend and consume more but regularly uses less heating and wears warmer clothes, shows the kind of convictions and attitudes which help to protect the environment. There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices. All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity. 212. We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world.
The Oblate inspired Symposium, Our Common Home: as long as the rivers flow, held in Saskatoon in 2016, offers a way to commit to Indigenous and environmental challenges. The day concluded with 60 or more people framing the following statement:
“We recognize treaties as a covenant to share and care for our common home. As Treaty peoples we are all bound together with each other, the land, and water. Yet, this covenant has been damaged by unjust laws and policies, such as the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools and the ‘sixties scoop’, which have negative inter-generational impacts. To contribute to healing such trauma, we affirm our responsibility to be Treaty people in the fullest sense.”
Each person was encouraged to endorse the statement by finding one fitting activity to commit to. You can look at commitments other people made by checking out; www.stmcollege.ca/commonhome
Of great importance are my personal choices, ones closer to home. At the root of finding such choices is learning from others as well as one’s on-going imagination. Below I give only a few actions that I’ve already taken, actions which I believe will carry some weight to impact the whole:
Filled with new excitement, I turned up sections of the front lawn to plant a small garden, done with the assistance of my young and impressionable grandchildren. This past year, we went to see ‘A Beautiful Planet’ held at the I Max theatre.
I walk whenever I can, take public transportation when it make sense
I keep close watch on the room temperature in the winter
I am watchful of purchases. Is this purchase necessary? What is the packaging like?
I compost and recycle.
I’m back at the house, the starting place of the 5 Station circuit!
The bitter cup life asks us to drink from can work to deepen understanding and determination. I am very fortunate to know different people who are on such a journey. When I encounter them, I encounter their evolving and life-giving spirituality, as well as their readiness to use imagination and natural intelligence, to address ecological and human needs arising in the circumstances of daily living.
I need such people. On my own I am severely limited... it just does not work to try to live life outside an inner circle that values community and development, outside of people who know what true joy is. Living in the company of joyful persons, and as motivated by the desire to help respond to what is lacking, is the drive behind works that bring health to the human family and its planet, one which we must learn to call our common home.