Reflecting on Earth Day
As Earth Day, April 22, approaches, I am reflecting more on Pope Francis’ recent encyclical Laudato Si about good stewardship of “the earth our mother.” I recommend it for Earth Day reading. My memory of Pope Francis’ tiny Fiat 500 – much commented on during his recent trip to the United States – has a very particular connection with Earth Day. The Fiat reflected not only Pope Francis’ modest lifestyle, but also his concern for careful use of the planet’s limited resources, extending to the means of transportation we choose. In the middle of his encyclical Laudato Si, the Holy Father talks about the systems of transport and their connection to the environment and human dignity.
Let me point out a promising initiative for this year’s Earth Day – a voluntary Car Free Day! This is an effort to reduce the number of cars on our streets and increase the use of mass transportation, cycling and walking. Look it up and consider participating as best fits your circumstances.
If you haven’t read the whole encyclical, let me suggest at least Paragraph 153 of Laudato Si for your Earth Day reflection:
The quality of life in cities has much to do with systems of transport, which are often a source of much suffering for those who use them. Many cars, used by one or more people, circulate in cities, causing traffic congestion, raising the level of pollution, and consuming enormous quantities of non-renewable energy. This makes it necessary to build more roads and parking areas which spoil the urban landscape. Many specialists agree on the need to give priority to public transportation. Yet some measures needed will not prove easily acceptable to society unless substantial improvements are made in the systems themselves, which in many cities force people to put up with undignified conditions due to crowding, inconvenience, infrequent service and lack of safety.
Worth thinking about!