Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pope Francis Captures the Moral High Ground Much to the Dismay of His Detractors

Way to go Frank!  You really knocked that one out of the park.  I never thought that I'd be writing about an encyclical from you, but what you had to say about climate change and how it is connected to the economy and our relationship with the planet and the rest of humanity pretty well sums up what I and a host of other progressive bloggers have been writing about for the last few years. 

Coming from you, however, carries a moral authority that has the potential to counterbalance the amoral neoliberal garbage that is spewed upon us by the traditional media, captured, for the most part, by a money-grubbing, Mammon-worshiping, financial elite and their minions.

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There are many memorable quotes to be found in this encyclical.  Perhaps the most direct, no holds barred observation is "the Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth." 

Tell it like it is Frank.  Don't pull any punches.

It's refreshing to hear a message that doesn't buy into the economy uber alles bullshit we hear everyday.  If you can read between the lines, it goes something like this:

Through put.  It's all about through put.  The more of the earth's natural resources we can extract and put to use, the better it is for all of us.  Don't worry about the toxic waste.  If you make enough cash, you can live far away from the garbage dumps.  Climate change?  Who gives a fuck about climate change when you and me will be long dead before the worst of it arrives?  Greed is good, I tell ya.  It's all about making as much cash as you can, and don't let anybody stand in you way, least of all those tree-hugging, bike-peddling, granola-munching, solar panel freaks that will be forcing us all to drive Priuses if we let them.

Ok, I had my fun, but, on the serious side, Pope Francis goes for the jugular when he exposes the irrational belief in the market's "invisible hand", the economists blind leap of faith which will make everything just right:

Once more, we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals. Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention.

You got that right Frank. The quality of life doesn't come down to the bottom line. 

Life is a mystery. Nevertheless, we just happen to live on an incredibly beautiful planet.  For the most part, what's been missing from the climate change debate is a sense of morality, and who better than the Pope to capture the essence of the moral question we face.  In his words:

When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. Unless we struggle with these deeper issues, I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results. But if these issues are courageously faced, we are led inexorably to ask other pointed questions: What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us? It is no longer enough, then simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity.

Powerful words that we need to return to from time to time regardless of one's religious beliefs.  Yes, these words are indeed addressed to everyone on the planet.

In closing, I take great pleasure in thinking that Pope Francis will now use the considerable means that he has at his disposal to get his message out to his more than a billion followers, and there is nothing that the traditional media can do about it except watch.

Thanks Frank.  Your sense of timing is impeccable, or should I say infallible.  ;-)