Where are our priorities right now in the middle of September 2020? In South Africa it is Heritage month, in the US – elections looming, Lebanon – struggling to recover from last month’s devasting explosion and recent fire in Beirut, in the world overall – wars, political unrest, natural disasters.
Climate change should be high on the world’s priority list. But as families on the ground, involved in the daily grind, focusing on survival, feeding a family, schooling, working to make living and picking up what pieces one can after a traumatic year it is difficult to keep one’s eyes on the bigger picture. However, an effort should be made, as far as possible, not to lose track of it.
The public media controls and directs much of our thinking and awareness by keeping us focused on more local, but maybe less life-threatening matters, preventing us from sustaining a wider worldview. Is a racist vision expressed in one small hair advert really sufficient cause to capture the vast amount of attention that it did? To Click or not to Click – is that the question?
If one lives in the US the November election is obviously hogging top media interest. But the horrific damage and loss of life and property caused by the wild fires still raging on the US West Coast are related to climate change. The devastation from the continuing hurricane season, affecting other parts similarly has been a consequence of global warming, i.e. climate change. We are aware of, but not as exposed to, other world climate events in our local media. Extensive flooding in Sudan and elsewhere, China, typhoons originating in the Indian ocean and the China sea all affected hundreds of thousands of people, losing their homes and livelihoods. Heat waves have also affected parts of the world and locust swarms destroy massive stretches of land in east Africa.
The coronavirus pandemic itself, the massive world-wide threat to human wellbeing also has ecological roots, in animal consumption allegedly through bats and pangolins. The environment may have experienced a temporary breather in reduced air pollution but overall it is suffering. All of creation suffers. How? Pope Francis writes, “there is a clear link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order. No renewal of relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity.” Addressing the current wave of protests across the world that too easily turn violent, he has this week spoken of support for the right to protest but calls for non-violence on the part of everyone.
These months of enforced lockdown and reduction in industrial activity have had positive side-effects but how sustainable are they? Is enough changing to prevent all those negative environmental and health effects from making a come-back? Will we even just smoke and drink less? The majority of people experience more serious social issues, described as additional pandemics of greater poverty, through loss of jobs and income, greater inequality, pain, anxiety and stresses on human relationships resulting in greater family violence. Fortunately the death rate in South Africa is low but still many families are suffering the loss of a loved one.
We are nearly half way through the SEASON OF CREATION ( 1 September – 4 October) and can evaluate ourselves, asking if we have begun to reshape our lives into more sustainable patterns, need we say, that are also not racist or sexist and overly consumerist? Who should be making the changes? The bigger roleplayers, government, politicians, church, industry or each of us in our own families – the little church of the home? Remember “everything is connected.” Is working from home increasing or decreasing the use of electricity and water and how can we control their misuse? Is being locked-down at home in families, with kids in and out of school helping to build and strengthen families? Are we helping women threatened by gender-based violence other than providing shelters for them? Are we ourselves and the Church providing meaningfully for families in these matters, on top of encouraging them to participate in streamed Mass, read the Sunday scriptures, pray together, and receive car-park communion? Apart from sustaining the liturgy, especially valuable is promoting relationship building and family faith sharing on current and relevant issues, also taking the family as domestic church into account. The increased demand from SADAG, http://www.sadag.com and other agencies for psychological support for mental issues certainly tell us these needs exist. A positive step is to become serious about the SEASON OF CREATION, appreciate the beauty of spring as well as the need to REUSE, REDUCE, RECYCLE?.
The Season of Creation and the Season of Covid cannot be isolated from one another. They should be closely integrated using whatever resources are available. Laudato Si’ is one important formation document for seeing the bigger picture and has a number of workbooks and offshoots. What can we, MARFAM offer?
MARFAM RESOURCES FOR THE SEASON OF CREATION AND THE SEASON OF COVID: digital or print.
- STATIONS OF THE CROSS FOR THE BEREAVED – in English and Sesotho. Also broadcast on Veritas 8pm Saturday eve.
- STATIONS OF THE CROSS FOR THE WIDOWED – in English, Sesotho, Zulu, Tswana, Afrikaans.
- FAMILY PRAYER BOOK. Simple prayers on family issues and faith sharing guidelines.
- OUR HERITAGE – Children’s activity booklet for Heritage Month.
- LAUDATO SI’ – leaflet with suggestions.
- DAILY THOUGHTS – Faith and Family sharing reflections
- FAMILY WEEKLY – blog and various articles on www.marfam.org.za
- RADIO VERITAS – FAMILY MATTERS Wednesday 9-10 and podcasts of interviews.
TR. FAMILY WEEKLY. 16 SEPTEMBER 2020