34. If everything is connected, it is hard to imagine that this global disaster is unrelated to our way of approaching reality, our claim to be absolute masters of our own lives and of all that exists. I do not want to speak of divine retribution, nor would it be sufficient to say that the harm we do to nature is itself the punishment for our offenses. The world is itself crying out in rebellion.
I think what Pope Francis is grasping at is the notion of natural consequences, as parents think of them. People err, sometimes ignorantly, sometimes intentionally. The acceleration of infection is directly related to the unwillingness to do what is necessary. I don’t believe in a Gaia that is exacting revenge on an intractable species. I do think that often enough offenders reap their own ill rewards from their actions.
We are reminded of the well-known verse of the poet Virgil that evokes the “tears of things”, the misfortunes of life and history.[Cf. Aeneid 1, 462: “Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt”.]
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