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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Saving our common home

This past month, the Vatican celebrated the third anniversary of the encyclical, “Laudato si’,” a letter written by Pope Francis on the care of the Earth, our common home. An International Conference was organized by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and aspired to communicate a sense of deep urgency and profound concern for the precarious state of our common planetary home. From the rise of global warming to a loss of biodiversity, we have not been the best stewards of our planetary home. However, this state that we are in is only a symptom of a greater issue that we have. The conference identified these problems with three As: Apathy, Avarice and Arrogance. We can be apathetic to the needs of the world or how our actions can affect others. This can stem from our avarice toward wanting things and pursuing them without considering others. We can have the arrogance to think that our actions are OK even if they hurt the world or others. These As can be easy for us as Americans to fall into, especially with the comforts that we live with. It may be difficult to see the dire state that our world is in when we have the luxuries to negate them so easily. The warmer or colder temperatures can be negated by the air conditioner or heater in our buildings. The droughts can be negated by irrigation and aqueducts. No matter what, there will always be water flowing when we turn on the faucet or food at the supermarket to purchase. However, many people and many countries continue to rely on what the Earth has to offer. It is this vast majority of our world’s population that is affected by our neglect. The change in climate may provide an unpredictable change to the growing season. The lengthening or shortening of the rainy or dry season could have dire consequences for a community of people. It is the poor and those that have done little to contribute to the problem that suffer the most. Thus, this is not merely a problem that can go away if we recycle more or stop using fossil fuels. This is rather a problem of a separation of peoples and a neglect of relationships. It is the rich neglecting the poor. Communities thinking only about themselves and their benefit even if it comes at the cost of another. Not only do we have to examine our relationship and our care for our common home, but we also have to care for those living in this home, especially the poorest among us. This year, the Center for Social Concerns will be examining the theme of the Preferential Option for the Poor. It is those who contribute least to the problem that suffer from it most. And it is those who suffer the most that get neglected. Through this theme, the Center will help us, as a Notre Dame community, to open our eyes and see those who suffer most and teach us how to care for them.

Kevin Kho

class of 2014

Aug. 24

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.