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Teaching how to celebrate Life and the Earth by Leonardo Boff

Teaching how to celebrate Life and the Earth

Leonardo Boff

Theologian
Earthcharter Commission

 

Given the generalized crisis we are presently enduring, all forms of education must include caring for everything that exists and lives. Without caring, we cannot guarantee a sustainability that will allow the planet to maintain its vitality, its ecosystems, its equilibrium, and the future of our civilization. We are taught critical and creative thinking, to have a profession and a good standard of living, but we forget to teach responsibility, and caring for the common future of Earth and Humanity. Education that does not include caring reveals alienation and irresponsibility. The more serious analysts of the ecological status of the Earth warn us that, if we do not care, we may experience catastrophies worse than those experienced in 2011 in Brazil and Japan. To maintain herself, the Earth might be forced, perhaps, to reduce her biosphere, eliminating species and millions of human beings.

Among the many good qualities of the concept of caring, I would like to point out two that are of interest to the new model of education: inclusion of the globe in our everyday imagery, and enchantment with the mystery of existence. When we contemplate planet Earth from outer space, a feeling of reverence arises, at seeing our only Common Home. We are inseparable from the Earth, with her, we form a whole. We feel that we must love her and take good care of her so that she may offer us all we need to continue living.

Leonardo Boff

The second quality of caring as an ethical attitude and a form of love, is the enchantment that we feel for the most spectacular and beautiful apparition that has ever existed, namely, the miracle of the existence of each individual human person. The systems, institutions, sciences, technical achievements and schools lack that which every human possesses: consciousness, the capacity for loving, caring, creativity, solidarity, compassion and the feeling of belonging to a larger Whole that sustains and animates us: the realities that constitute our Profundity.

We surely are not the center of the universe. But we are the beings that carry its conscience and intelligence, through which the universe thinks of itself, is conscious and sees itself in its splendid complexity and beauty. We are the part of the universe and the Earth that has come to feel, to think, to love and to venerate. That is our dignity, that must be internalized and imbued in every person of the new planetary era.

We should be proud of being able to perform this mission for the Earth and for the whole universe. We only fulfill this mission if we care for ourselves, for others, and for every being that inhabits the Earth.

Perhaps few have expressed these noble feelings better than the distinguished musician and poet Pablo Casals, (1876–1973.) In a speech at the United Nations in the 1980s, he

Pablo Casals

addressed the General Assembly, thinking of the children as the future of the new humanity. His message is also valuable for us adults. Casals said:

The child must know that he himself is a miracle, that from the beginning of the world, never has there been another child just the same, and that in the whole future, there will never be another child like him. Every child is unique, from the beginning to the end of time. That way the child assumes a responsibility, as he confesses: it is true that I am a miracle. I am a miracle as the tree is a miracle. And being a miracle, could I do evil? No, because I am a miracle. I can say God or Nature, or God-nature. That’s not that important. What is important is that I am a miracle made by God and by nature. Could I kill someone? No. I cannot. And could another human being, who is also a miracle, kill me? I believe that what I am telling the children, could help bring about another way of thinking of the world and of life. The world of today is bad, yes it is a bad world. The world is bad because we do not talk to the children as I am talking to them now, in the way they need us to talk to them. Then the world will have no reason to be a bad world.

Great realism is revealed here: every reality, especially human reality, is unique and precious, but at the same time, we live in a conflicted world, contradictory and with terrifying aspects. In spite of all that, we must trust in the strength of the seed. The seed is filled with life. Every child that is born is a seed of a world that can be better. Because of that, it is worth having hope. A patient in a psychiatric hospital that I visited, printed with fire on a small board that he later gave me: «Every child who is born is a sign that God still believes in the human being.» It is not necessary to say anything more, because in these words lies the meaning of our hope as we face the evils and tragedies of this world.

 

Leonardo Boff
09-01-2011

 

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