Jeff Odendahl, JPIC, for the Earth Healers Committee
Flashback to four and one-half years ago—Franciscan Sisters and Associates had just endorsed the Earth Charter. Several had worked long and hard to educate our community about the Earth Charter and were justifiably proud of the response of our Franciscan Community. In 2014, we continue to stand by that endorsement, but time can dull our memories and we must remain constant in reminding ourselves, “Why the Earth Charter?” and, “What implication does our endorsement have for us?”
Broadly stated, the Earth Charter calls us to sustainable ways of living and a global social ethic that includes respect and care for the community of life. The critical web of moral values that makes this possible includes ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy and a culture of peace. The good news is that these values are deeply grounded in our Gospel-based spirituality. The flip side is that this “new” way of living drastically contrasts to how most people (including many of us) are living today.
So, that’s the “Why?” The second—and more critical question—remains. “What will we do about it?” If this were our job description, part of it might read, “some heavy lifting required.” This isn’t just about tweaking a few things in our personal lifestyles. It is about making significant changes that can lighten our personal footprints on the planet—consuming less when most everything in our culture is driving us to consume more. More importantly, it is about working for systemic change—things like climate change legislation—which can happen only through the forces of larger institutions like government, church, business, etc.
There are many among us who started long ago and who continue to engage us with their love for Mother Earth. These are the people we call Franciscan Earth Citizens. Once again, we are seeking nominations for this important annual award. Think of it like a Where’s Waldo? book. Look for the Franciscan Earth Citizen among those you know. Contact Jeff Odendahl at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the criteria.