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Anne Glydel C.

GE 143 4B

Reflection on On Our Common Home

The encyclical letter On Our Common Home written by Pope Francis basically tackles about the
destruction of our environment due to continuous exploitation of our natural resources and our self-
centered way of living in this world, and somehow, a kind of awakening message not only for the Christians
but for all the people to open their eyes and be aware of what is really happening in this world. At the
first chapter of the encyclical (What is Happening to Our Common Home), the Pope mainly discusses
several evidences of the current state of our environment: different kinds of pollution that contaminates
our surroundings, the change in climate due to growing presence of greenhouse gases and the consequent
effects people are experiencing especially from developing countries, scarcity of safe water and the
diseases people obtained from it, loss in biodiversity, deterioration of the quality of human life due to
media and inequality and inequity among rich and poor countries. He also talks about some biblical
accounts introducing the creation of God, what He wanted His believers to know about caring of
environment and the role of the human in His creation. Moreover, the deep causes of human activities in
ecological and sociological issues were thoroughly presented. The last two chapters are about the possible
solutions or actions on how to solve environmental destruction such as international negotiations
regarding national and local policies and clear decision-making, what does religion say about science and
technological improvements and how spirituality and ecological education will help towards awareness
and world preservation.

Pope Francis definitely achieved his goaI of spreading awareness about the current condition of
our environment and how huge is our role in the recent events that has already been taking place today.
Among all the enumeration of the burden that humans contribute in ecological crisis, what strikes me the
most is what he said that we, people are already submerged under the self-centered culture. Ever since I
was young, I have been greatly amused on what technology brought us: beauty, new discoveries and
inventions. Lets admit it: technology made a huge leap to ever since the stone-age time of human history.
GMOs, smartphones, tablets, skyscraper condominiums, stem cells, air conditioner, heater, and other
products created by the intelligent humans give us the pleasure in living to this world. But sometimes, we
are already shielded by the comfort it brings us. The tendency of the latter is we are not able to realize
and foresight the hidden reality that will eventually may bring desolation to the future. For me, this is
specifically true especially for the generation nowadays. I, for example, am greatly hooked on the new
models of smartphones and planning to buy one even though my cellphone is fine and still working. I also
rejoice whenever theres a new mall to be constructed since Im one of those people who love going to
malls. But the encyclical triggered me to start reflecting and I realized that Im one of those people who is
under the technocratic paradigm. These people (including me) are already blinded on the comfort and
short-term pleasure that technology is giving us. Its so easy for us to buy new model of our favorite
gadgets or machines that makes our life a lot easier and do the things that bring enjoyment to us that we
dont know how to surface from drowning into these things. Worse, we dont see the negative effects of
some technological advancements to the world we are now ruining.

The culture of relativism widely conquer our society today. As Pope Francis defines the term
from the encyclical, culture relativism is a disorder which drives one person to take advantage or treat
others as mere objects. We sometimes think when we encounter a person which is not knowledgeable
like us, we feel like were in a higher position in the pyramid than him/her, treating that person like a lowly
human being than us. It is significantly true nowadays especially here in the Philippines, where a huge gap
of inequity from the country fellowmen and higher officials of government and private institutions due to
corruption. Analogous to culture relativism, we often treat common goods (air, water, biodiversity) to
be unlimited resources and underestimate the fact that the animals we are living with together can reach
extinction someday. Once in my life, I thought that clean water would not deplete so when I was younger,
I would always take a bath longer, or sometimes I was leaving the faucet open, which if we estimate the
amount, may already help those people in need of clean and safe water. Due to our self-centered and
anthropocentric minds, it became acceptable for us to hunt deer and kill other extinct animals for our
leisure. It became acceptable for us to cut numerous trees from the forests just to produce volume of
paper where large percentage are being wasted each day. It is okay for us to throw our garbage in the
oceans and rivers, without thinking of the creatures living under these seas. And since we are already
accustomed of these things, we consciously think it is normal and wont have any effect to us but
unfortunately, we dont realize that these behaviors produce long-term consequences in the near future.

The encyclical is a worth-a-shot reading and my perspective after reading it became broader than
before. The reasons stated by the Pope on how we started to lose our real role were somehow all true.
He also suggested significant suggestions or solutions for the global dilemma we are experiencing such as
ecological education, limiting and controlling of technology, international dialogues and recovering of our
values and roles in the environment.

Science and technology prompted me to choose engineering in college. I wanted to discover new
things that will help for the improvement of our society. But as time passed by, I mainly focused on my
own goals in life, on how will I succeed in life and achieve good grades. It hasnt occurred to me once that
there are larger things that should be considered other than my own future. I have been ignorant and
indifferent on the environmental problems that were actually facing. Whats the use of producing a lot
of money if we cant enjoy fresh air, or our world is already degraded and doesnt look like livable habitat
anymore? If all of us can internalize and realize that all living things in this world are equally created and
that we must respect the environment we are living in, we may able to revive our gradually dying home.
Let us together unite, choose a lifestyle that will not only benefit us, but will make a great change for the
entire world. As Pope Francis quoted on the encyclical, Nothing in this world is indifferent to us.