A year ago my spouse and I lived in St. Paul, MN. We lived in a community where we could walk to places like the market or to meet a friend for coffee. We biked to work and to see family. We spent summers enjoying the lush green and gorgeous lakes of Minnesota. It was a shock, to say the least, to move to the concrete and neon lights of New York City. Last week, I went to visit friends in Denver, CO and marveled at the glorious sacred wisdom of the mountains. The other day, my train ran along the Hudson River in New York, and I put my book down as my eyes and heart were drawn to the wide, strong flowing river. These moments made me realize how much I missed access the awesomeness of God’s creation.
What is a moment lately when you basked in the glory of God’s beautiful creation?
Care of God’s Creation is one of the tenants of Catholic Social Teaching. But it encompasses so much more than basking in the beauty and healing nature of God’s mountains, oceans and forests. Care for God’s Creation is a vision of justice that challenges us to be in right relationship with all members of God’s creation. Because the earth is a gift, we are called to care for it responsibly in a way that sustains it, not destroys it. We must recognize that people experiencing poverty are affected most by environmental destruction, and we work together as faithful people to educate, do outreach and organize advocacy efforts against systems that exploit the earth.
What do you do to live out Care for God’s Creation? In what ways are you working toward saving the environment and not exploiting it?
When thinking about all the aspects of Care for God’s Creation, New York is actually doing okay. People in New York City are very good at sharing resources. We have small living spaces and use public transportation. Manhattan is so densely populated that the amount of resources that is used per person here is much less than in many other places in the United States. The United States in general, however, does not live in a sustainable way. We need to see ourselves as children of God first, not consumers.
How do you see our consumer identity getting in the way of identifying as children of God?
Last year I put together an audio documentary about the people of El Salvador fighting to keep the gold mining companies out of their country. Powder gold was found, but when the people did their research, they realized the environmental impact of deciding to mine for gold with arsenic and cyanide. They are trying to define themselves and human beings and not consumers. We don’t need gold, but we do need water. This is a perfect example of why Care for God’s Creation exists in Catholic Social Teaching. The people who would be most affected by the gold mining’s negative aspects are the ones struggling with poverty. They need advocacy to be able to save their land from the exploitation of mining with harmful materials.
Where else do you see systems that are valuing profit instead of people and the earth?