Laudato Si 211: The Need for Good Habits

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. The limits of education, as such, are pondered:

211. Yet this education, aimed at creating an “ecological citizenship”, is at times limited to providing information, and fails to instil good habits. The existence of laws and regulations is insufficient in the long run to curb bad conduct, even when effective means of enforcement are present. If the laws are to bring about significant, long-lasting effects, the majority of the members of society must be adequately motivated to accept them, and personally transformed to respond.

Countless are the places of human neglect: we know we should exercise more, eat healthier, get good rest, avoid conflict with people who push our buttons. Yet we presist in actions and thoughts that inflict harm. We know, but we do not change.

Only by cultivating sound virtues will people be able to make a selfless ecological commitment. A person who could afford to spend and consume more but regularly uses less heating and wears warmer clothes, shows the kind of convictions and attitudes which help to protect the environment.

I recall reading months ago mostly petty criticism for examples such as this, and those that follow.

There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices. All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity.

The point is not the specifics, though these examples are no doubt helpful to many persons. The point is to make an appropriate and manageable change, then commit to it for the time it takes to reform habitual behavior. Then repeat on another front.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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