Monday, August 30, 2010

The time to pitch in

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

My articles on the ecological situation on Earth may have raised more than a little anxiety in readers. And it is good that it is so, since anxiety moves us out of inertia, makes us think, read, converse, discuss and seek new paths. In dark times such as ours, tranquility would be irresponsible. Each and every one must act quickly and together, because everything is urgent. We must mobilize to set a new direction for our life on this planet if we want to continue living on it.

The times of plenty and comfort are past. What is happening is not simply a crisis, but something irreversible. The Earth has changed without possibility of going back and we must change with it. The time has begun of awareness of the finitude of all things, as well as of what seemed to us most perennial: the continuing vitality of the Earth, the balance of the biosphere and the immortality of the human species. All these realities are undergoing a process of chaos. At first it appears destructive, dropping all that is accidental and merely added on, but then it shows itself to be creative, giving new form to what is eternal and essential for life.

Until now we were living in the era of the fist, clenched to dominate, subjugate and destroy. Now the era of open hand, extended to build up, begins -- pitching in, in cooperation and solidarity, "the communal living well" and the common good of Earth and humanity. Goodbye to inveterate individualism and welcome to cooperation of all with all.

As astrophysicists and cosmologists assure us, the universe is still in genesis, in the process of expansion and self-creation. There is a Background Energy that underlies all events, supports each being and directs all energy forward and upward toward increasingly complex and conscious forms. We are a creative emergence from it.

That Background Energy is always in action, but is particularly active at times of systemic crisis when the forces accumulate to cause ruptures and make leaps in quality possible. "Emergences" occur then: something new that has not yet existed, but that is contained in the potentialities of the universe.

I believe that we are facing one of these "emergences": the noosphere (minds and hearts together), the planetary phase of consciousness and the unification of the human species, gathered together in the same common home, planet Earth.

Then we will identify ourselves as brothers and sisters sitting together at the table, to live, eat, drink and enjoy the fruits of Mother Earth, after working cooperatively and respecting nature. We will confirm what Ernst Bloch, the philosopher of the Hope Principle, said: "Genesis is not at the beginning but at the end."

I echo the words of the father of American ecology, cultural anthropologist and theologian Thomas Berry: "We will never lack the energy needed to build the future. In fact, we live immersed in an ocean of Energy, greater than we can imagine. This energy belongs to us, not through domination but through invocation."

We have to rely on that Background Energy. It is always there, available. We just have to open ourselves up to it with the willingness to welcome it and make the changes it inspires.

By being a beneficent and creative Energy, it enables us to proclaim with the poet Thiago de Mello, amid the dead ends and the threats to our future: "It is dark, but I sing." Yes, we sing the advent of this new "emergency" for Earth and humanity.

Because we love the stars, we are not afraid of the dark night. In the stars is our beginning, because we are made of stardust. They will guide us and make us shine again, because that is why we appear on this planet: to shine. That is the purpose of the universe and the design of the Creator.

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