Integral Ecology

Last week’s Mapping Laudato Si’ addressed various types of ecology: environmental, economic, social, and cultural. Today, we continue highlighting this important chapter with a look at the ecology of daily life.

1. Ecology of Daily Life (#147-155)

In this section the Pope deals with the issue of QUALITY OF LIFE which affects everyone. He commends those who with generosity and creativity respond to the environmental limitations of their surroundings, but notes that extreme poverty can lead to immense challenges in regard to quality of life.

Pope Francis mentions the problems raised by lack of housing, criminalization and overcrowding in mega-cities. (#148-149) Overcrowding and anonymity in large cities can lead to anti-social behavior and violence.  “Nonetheless, I wish to insist that love always proves more powerful. Many people in these conditions are able to weave bonds of belonging and togetherness which convert overcrowding into an experience of community in which the walls of the ego are torn down, and the barriers of selfishness overcome.” (149) But he also mentions a series of transformations in urban life that could be part of the new vision for our common home (#147-153).

Urban planning should facilitate people meeting together and helping each other. It should take account of the views of local people. Pope Francis wants to see the common areas, urban landscapes, and landmarks  that make people feel at home in a city, developed and protected. If people feel a sense of belonging; “others will no longer be seen as strangers, but as part of the “we” which all of us are working to create.” (151)

Lack of housing or inadequate housing is a big problem in cities and the countryside. Shanty towns should be developed, not cleared. “At the same time, creativity should be shown in integrating rundown neighborhoods into a welcoming city” so that those who are different can be integrated into the city. Life can also be blighted by pollution from vehicles and overcrowded or inadequate public transport.

Concern for city life, however, should not cause us to overlook rural populations which “lack access to essential services and where some workers are reduced to conditions of servitude, without rights or even the hope of a more dignified life” (#154).

The section ends with a recognition of the relationship between human life and moral law, which is inscribed in our nature and is necessary for the creation of a more dignified environment (#155).

Questions for Reflection

The Pope speaks about land use and its impact on our lives.  

1. If  you could design a city, what would it look like?

2. What one thing might you do to remove the obstacles that keep you from engaging with the City of Chicago and its rich culture?

“Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning is an essential element of any genuine human ecology,” Pope Francis says.

3. Have you considered that how you take care of your body has repercussions on the world at large? How can you become a better caretaker of your own body?

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