The Peace Prize

AL Gore is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the media goes into a frenzy. What does ecology have to do with peace? Later in the day, one reporter found the justification to end all justifications. If people do not have enough water, they become refugees. People who lack the necessities of life may take up arms to get what they want. This would threaten world peace. The true bottom line—saving the environment is our best defense.
I found this argument to be very disconcerting. It is true but it starts from the wrong premise. Ecology is first of all respect for God’s creation. We acknowledge God as Creator but, once we get past the evolution debate, it becomes mere lip service.
We go back to the “dominion” issue in Genesis. To some dominion means responsible stewardship. To others it means the rape and pillage the resources of creation.
Many people still believe that Ronald Reagan brought down the Berlin Wall. [The same people still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny!] I was in Germany after the Wall came down. It was not due to our military strength and threats. My German host informed me that it was due to Communist exploitation of the resources in Eastern Europe. When the Wall came down, the natural resources had been very much depleted. They took and took without any thought of conservation or giving back. It was economics at its worst—greed and exploitation.
God has entrusted us to be stewards of creation. As my Celtic ancestors knew so well—the earth and all that is in it is sacred. The Native Americans who fell victim to Conquistador greed valued the earth as do all indigenous peoples.
Sister Dorothy Stang valued the Amazon and the people who dwelled in it. She abhorred the pillage of their land and their resources. Her respect for the Creator, the people and the earth got her assassinated. Pursuing canonization for Sister Dorothy would give credibility to the Church’s stance on ecology.
The former Vice president in a nation that will not even sign the Kyoto Agreement is warded the Nobel Peace prize. Shame on America! Our president’s “Catholic “ advisor denies that there is an ecological crisis.
The Catholic Catechism urges us to value creation:
Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. For each one of the works of the “six days” it is said: “And God saw that it was good.” “By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws.” Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment. (339)
Pope Benedict XVI has spoken frequently of the environment:
“Everyone today can see that man could destroy the foundation of his existence — his earth — and, therefore, we can no longer simply use this earth, this reality entrusted to us, to do what we want or what appears useful and promising at the moment, but we must respect the inherent laws of creation.”
In his World Peace Day message the Pontiff said:
In his Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given to him, but man too is God’s gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed.” By responding to this charge, entrusted to them by the Creator, men and women can join in bringing about a world of peace. Alongside the ecology of nature, there exists what can be called a “human” ecology, which in turn demands a “social” ecology. All this means that humanity, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology. Experience shows that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa. It becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link between peace with creation and peace among men. Both of these presuppose peace with God. The poem-prayer of Saint Francis, known as “the Canticle of Brother Sun”, is a wonderful and ever timely example of this multifaceted ecology of peace.
Indiscriminate use of the earth’s resources will have physical, moral and spiritual consequences. If the few continue to consume an inordinate amount of the earth’s resources, the many will take whatever measures are necessary to survive in an unjust and cruel world.
Creation is not to be abused for the satisfaction of our needs. It is to be revered as a gift from God—a gift we must cherish and nurture. Let us cherish our connectedness with creation.

Leave a Reply