On Thursday, May 26th, I attended a workshop on Pope Francis’ latest encyclical “Laudato Si: Caring for Our Common Home.” This letter to world details the Church’s position on the environment and our role in stewardship over the Earth. It was an enlightening experience to hear and have explained what the Pope is saying and how his vision of environmental protection fits with my (lack of) understanding.
I’ve never been much of an environmentalist. In fact, I have found it rather amusing in the past to have fun with people who go crazy over the environment. That’s not to say I’m against taking care of the environment, I just never took it super seriously. In fact, I still am not sure whether “global warming” is caused by human activity or not. What on learned on Thursday changed my attitude almost completely.
It’s not that the Pope has convinced me one way or the other of what the causes of global warming may be. What I realized from understanding Laudato Si is that it’s not about what could happen to the environment if I pollute or waste, it’s about what is happening to my fellow man here and now. It’s about learning to reduce my own consumption and my own waste. It’s about sharing what I have with those in in need. It’s about doing my part, however small, to reduce the amount of pollution I create. Instead of focussing on the possibilities, it’s about focussing on the reality of my own life. I need to live with humility and in solidarity with the poor more than I do now.
The point from the Pope’s encyclical that made the biggest impression on me was the impact that environmental degradation has on the poor. The lifestyle of the wealthy does have a direct impact on the lives of the poor. Seeing it through this lens helps me appreciate that every little thing I do, however small, can lead to a real change in my heart and a real change in the world. If everyone does a little, it actually can make a difference.
So what difference will this make at Cloverdale Catholic School? We are going to commit to wasting less. We can start with paper. We go through more than 500,000 pieces of paper each year. I don’t even know how that is possible! That’s over 1600 pieces of paper per student and that is unacceptable. Secondly, we are going to get in line with the rest of the world and begin composting our food waste. Finally (for now), we are going to build a garden/farm here at the school. Getting kids’ hands dirty and helping them appreciate where our food comes from should make them into more well-rounded, healthier people. These three relatively small areas are a beginning and as they say, every epic journey begins with just a single step.
Thanks for reading!