Will the World Be Saved By Beauty?

One of the most compelling events we have attended here in Paris has been the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature. Elise García, OP has done a fine job reporting on this in the Global Sisters Report. I have little to add to what Elise has already captured – other than to emphasize the importance of this concept. The divide between those making decisions regarding the future sustainability of life on this planet, and those who are deeply in tune with the rhythms and the wisdom of the natural world is simply breathtaking. Two pieces of wisdom have been ringing through my thoughts these days, as we have witnessed impassioned pleas on behalf of the sacredness of Earth and all who inhabit her, along with the intransigence of governments/corporations to consider Earth as a living system. The first is from Albert Einstein:  “You cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it.” The second is from Dostoevsky:  “The world will be saved by beauty.” Years ago Thomas Berry reminded us that part of the Great Work we are called to entails retrieving the wisdom of both women and Indigenous peoples. It is this wisdom that has prevailed in civil society venues; it is this wisdom that the negotiators seem to resist. But it is the energy of this wisdom and its abiding appreciation for the beauty of all of life which will ultimately bring about the transformational shift that is needed.

What is abundantly clear is that an appreciation for the beauty of Earth does not drive decision makers. We do not harm that which we love. We do not shamelessly exploit that which we love. Which begs the question for each of us – do we love our common home? Does Earth and all her inhabitants offer us a mirror into God’s extravagant love for us and for all creatures?

If we love our one common home, we must realize that COP21 is not the final word in terms of our common future. In fact, its outcome may continue to contribute to the shameless exploitation of the beauty of the natural world and our diminishment as well. So in the end, will the world be saved by beauty? The answer to this question depends upon each one of us, and just how willing we are to be steadfast in our efforts to dismantle the government supported corporate machine that continues to operate out of an outdated paradigm that gives pride of place to economic growth. So as COP21 draws to a close, a new phase of our work is about to begin.

–Margaret Mayce, OP (NGO Representative to the United Nations)

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