"The Virtuous Cycle: Restoring Nature and Humanity" Maria José Melo Antunes
Para assinalar a chegada da Primavera, publicamos um documento de Maria José Melo Antunes intitulado"The Virtuous Cycle: Restoring Nature and Humanity".
Trata-se de um conjunto de reflexões elaboradas pela autora aquando da sua participação na iniciativa levada a cabo pela Fundação Betânia, de 14 a 16 de Fevereiro de 2010, subordinada ao tema: "Se queres cultivar a Paz, preserva a Criação".
Se queres cultivar a Paz, preserva a Criação (Pope’s New Year message)
Feb. 14, 2010 – A Criação como Dom de Deus e a Responsabilidade Humana
• ”I think; therefore I am.” (Descartes) – 17th century.
Beginning of the enlightenment and importance of science.
Further decline in faith and the power of the Catholic Church, which began with Henry VIII and the Protestant Reformation (Martin Luther) – 16th century.
Man: Master of the Universe - epitomised by Francis Bacon’s scientific method.
• “I shop; therefore I am.” (Barbara Kruger) – 1980s.
Acceleration and global expansion of the consumer culture (The Culture of Contentment - John Kenneth Galbraith).
Materialistic society – new religion, rooted in the industrial revolution and technocentrism.
Man: Despoiler of the Universe.
War for resources
Depletion of resources;
decline in biodiversity;
risk of environmental disasters (See Jared Diamond’s Collapse).
Greed and financial excesses and crisis – a deadly sin Decline in security and wellbeing Increase in fanaticism and extreme views.
Terrorism arising from disillusionment (see JK Galbraith The Culture of Contentment), resistance to change and to the “Occidentalization of society”
Nostalgia for law and order can pose risk.
Urgently required next phase: “I care; therefore, I am.” – 21st century Reclaiming humanity: ethics and responsibility.
Man: Steward of the Universe Regulation provides the framework and instills boundaries – key to society – but alone cannot ensure human welfare.
• Motivation has to come from within – charity or ágape – the virtuous cycle:
St. Paul: Romans Chapter 7 – law vs. charity
St. Paul: Corinthians Chapter 13 – man is nothing without charity
Feb. 15, 2010 – A Sabedoria de Confiar em Tempo de Crise
• When there is a breakdown in confidence, we enter a vicious cycle. We reinforce the vicious cycle when we reinforce the lack of confidence by responding like for like, e.g, deceit, etc.
• Thomas Aquinas wrote on whether man is virtuous by nature (Dionysius) – habit or grace (St. Thomas Aquinas, Treatise on the Virtues, Question LXIII, “The Cause of Virtue”).
• When man is divorced from nature, virtue is easily replaced by vice; virtue is about equilibrium – in the natural loop, each organism has a role to play – contributing to the common welfare.
• Pride: human exemptionalism – control of nature.
• Confidence is key to saving humanity and the planet.
• We must reinforce the virtuous cycle, and not the vicious cycle.• Capital de confianca – we inherit a legacy of confidence, from our childhood, etc. – on this we build, but few children are so blessed.
• Security is not the same as confidence.
• Confidence can imply risk (of betrayal).
• Con fides – to believe in and with someone else/others, not alone.
• We cannot act alone; we need to have confidence. With whom do we wish to walk through life in confidence? Our neighbours...
• Resolving a problematic breakdown through metamorphosis (Edgar Morin):
In order for metamorphosis to take place, the nucleus of change has to exist
– butterfly example Within the system/organism, seek the positive, not the negative, to build on.
– changing the system from within: metasystemic – learning Confident outlook
– see the virtuous side.
• Each can be an example for the other – “beacon”.
• Be the bearer of good news (reinforces the virtuous cycle), not bad (vicious cycle).
• Trust in God: Luke 12: 22-32 (birds in the air and lilies in the fields).Afternoon session
• The pendulum
Movement Swinging to the left and to the right and passing through the center vs. returning to the center; the centre shifts and should shift, or otherwise we do not move on Balance (can imply one solution) cf. harmony Centrality of the pendulum: balance - feeling of uprightness in a person – between the sky and the earth (a ceu e a terra) – comforting feeling: feet planted on the ground, and arching upwards.
Walking meditation – the labyrinth (to explore): what was its role in the medieval Church?
• Meditation vs. contemplation.
• The importance of the void: leads to letting go – giving up control; this opens up new horizons, new ways of seeing things.
• Jesuits’ spiritual exercises Using experiences and the senses (so do the Buddhists in meditation).
• Exercises Game of falling and propping up – sensations of abandonment/confidence and protection/security Drawing – attention and identification (s’apprivoiser in The Little Prince: to take responsibility/care for someone or something).
Feb. 16, 2010 - Sustentabilidade Ambiental, Inclusão Social e Estilo de Vida : o que posso fazer?
• Unsustainable trend – accelerated as of 1980s (Ladislau Dowbor graph with line steeply curving upward as of 1980s) – started with Reagan’s “voodoo economics” and the explosion of credit, leading to consumption boom
• “End the destruction” – we must amplify the earth’s silent voice; it is within our giant conscience.
• 3 considerations:
- Are we ready to rethink the consumption paradigm? Do we want to? (Faust and Mephistoles) Not yet, but the debate is beginning
- Can we accept negative growth? What would be the social consequences? Discussion of happiness – focus on quality of life (See Tim Jackson’s Prosperity without Growth; report finds that current aspirations for “decoupling” environmental impacts from economic growth are unrealistic)
- Current capitalist model – “return morality to capitalism” (Sarkozy at Davos, 2010).
• 3 key requirements to resolve challenge:
- Individual action set in a group context (cohesion and cooperation).
• Mentality will change, but very slowly – like a turtle – needing a combination of fear and opportunity, but inspiration would be best!
• In History, no major change has occurred without suffering – Jesus at Gethsemane:“Father, take this cup away from me”
• Need of human warmth and solidarity – community focus – ágape.
The Virtuous Cycle: Restoring Nature and HumanityReflections at Betânia – Feb. 2010