"The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth."Really? Is that how the pope sees the earth and the people in it who, by implication, are responsible for the "immense pile of filth?"
Of course, I live in the Shenandoah Valley and all around me are small towns and farmland tucked in between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Alleghenies to the west, a paradise of natural beauty. But I came from Alexandria
where I lived for almost thirty years. Even that highly urbanized area could never be described as an "immense pile of filth." It was lovely. We lived along the Route 1 corridor, a mixed area of very rich and very poor, so it wasn't just because it was an upscale neighborhood.
But I'm baffled. How could anyone with a soul ever describe the world as looking "more and more like an immense pile of filth?"
Huge cities with millions of people, of course, have particular challenges, especially where there are high concentrations of the poverty stricken without access to clean water and proper disposal. I remember being in Guatemala City for a Natural Family Planning conference twenty-five years ago. A shanty town near the conference center held hundreds of people living in pasteboard shacks with corrugated tin roofs with no bathroom facilities. But the city, on the whole, could hardly be described as an "immense pile of filth."
I seriously doubt the pope wrote that sentence. It sounds like the prelude to a rant against overpopulation. Perhaps the one who actually wrote this section of the encyclical (He is certainly getting credit for being a contributor.) is Hans Schellnhuber who thinks the planet can only sustain a billion people. All the other six billion are, no doubt, to blame for creating that "pile of filth."
Don't get me wrong. I realize pollution is a problem and agree with the pope's statement that pollution problems "are closely linked to a throwaway culture." Heck, I remember the days when the milk man delivered our milk in glass bottles which were collected and re-used. I remember paying a deposit on returnable glass pop and beer bottles and before plastic bottled water. I remember reusing brown paper bags to cover school books and create "brown paper packages tied up with string."
Today's generation thinks they invented recycling, I was raised by parents who believed you should use up what you can and re-use and wear out what you can't, who taught us to pick up after ourselves and leave a place cleaner than you found it. My husband and I used to take our children on "litter walks" each of us carrying trash bag. That is simply responsible stewardship. Unfortunately, the consumer culture encourages throwing out and buying new since it's cheaper (by design I'm sure) than repairing.
But, I digress. Suffice it to say that I agree with Chapter one about pollution and the throwaway culture. It is a significant problem.
But then I came to Chapter 23 on the climate. (To be continued.....)