By Dave Steen
I had a dream that Pope Francis showed up to urge Islands Trust Council to keep up the good work preserving and protecting the Gulf Islands, a designated and natural paradise.
The dream occurred the night after I had made a presentation to Council at its quarterly meeting, held last month (June, 2015) on Galiano Island. Speaking for our Gulf Islands Alliance, I asked for a reform of the Trust’s stuffy and expensive strategic planning process.
Of course, the Pope was to talk about a more lofty matter — how his encyclical letter to the world “on care for our common home” could enhance Council’s duty to uphold the “glorious” Islands Trust Act.
The Pope declined the Trust’s invitation — issued to all presenters — to consider withdrawing his talk and simply giving them the text.
Also, he said he visited the Trust’s website and studied the tips for addressing council. (“Take a slow, deep breath … it will help you relax.”) And he admitted being puzzled that he would be allowed both 5 minutes and 10 minutes for his presentation.
Council agreed he should have the full 10 minutes seeing as how he had traveled so far. (A warning light would be flashed after the 9th minute.)
The Pope started, reading from his letter:
“We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.”
He quoted Pope Paul VI, from 1971: “Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation.”
He quoted another, Pope Paul II, who warned that humans frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption.”
His predecessor Benedict XVI pleaded for the correction of “models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment.”
Pope Francis said, “These statements of the Popes echo the reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians and civic groups.” More than improved technology, fixing the ‘disfigurement and destruction of creation’ will be made on the ethical and spiritual journey from what we want personally to what the world needs.
In a nod to the trustees and other environmentalists, he said, “I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home we share.”
Noting that no one “can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis”, he called for a “new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
(At this point the red light flashed, indicating the Pope had only 1 minute left.)
“Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity.
“Change is impossible without motivation and a process of education.”
He added that the “need for forthright and honest debate” is linked to “serious responsibility of international and local policy.”
With only seconds left, the Pope mentioned climate change: “Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption in order to combat warming… The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions of human life.”
When the Pope sat down, one trustee proposed a motion, under ‘new business’, that, “Trust Council study possible implications of the Pope’s encyclical letter on Islands Trust policies.”
Unfortunately, time ran out before new business could be considered. The motion was scrapped. The meeting adjourned
By Dave Steen