“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him. But pity the one who falls and has no one to help him!”
Wednesday, 9 September 2020
The Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that we are, at our core, social beings. We thrive when we have relationships with others, especially through difficult times. We need one another and have a shared responsibility for others and the world. It is this need and responsibility that invites us to re-examine our social life. When the foundations of social life are corroded, we lose the sense that we need others and are responsible for one another.
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis reminds us that an integral ecology comprises simple daily gestures which sow peace and friendship and break the cycle of violence, exploitation and selfishness (#230). He goes on to say that love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political and makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. Genuine love for society and commitment to the common good are expressions of charity which affect not only relationships between individuals but also macro relationships – social, economic and political.
If we are to care truly for the environment, we need to begin by looking at the relationships between people. When we cultivate good relationships, a shared sense of purpose and identity emerges. This, in turn, means that the quality of life of all becomes important. Genuine solidarity emerges when we care about other people and live with the awareness that we share the common home that God has entrusted to us. A true human and humane community can break out of the indifference brought about by consumerism.
The writer of Ecclesiastes points out that our vulnerability is much greater when we think we can ‘go it alone’. Our world is divided and natural resources exploited because so many have decided to ‘go it alone’ at the expense of others. The word ‘relationship’ implies that we attempt to twist all the threads together, which, in turn, means we have greater strength and solidarity.
Do I recognize my need for others? Do I acknowledge the fact that I am responsible for others and the natural world by virtue of being human?