Creation and the Exodus: two complementary traditions

23 01 2009
by Fernando Franco
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It was a good idea to reach Belem a day and a half earlier. One has more free time and the physical clock gets more time to adjust itself and a busy Jesuit gets the leisure to roam this beautiful vast city of two million people. A group of us decided to attend the morning lectures at the ‘World Forum on Theology and Liberation’, a gathering of ‘progressive’ theologians as they like to call themselves. The Forum meets just before the World Social Forum begins, and this year has attracted more than 900 participants from all over the world.

A theology professor from South Africa presented an insightful and provocative presentation on the ethical implications of sustainability with three examples. The first referred to the unfortunate fact that in many slums of South Africa buckets are used to collect night soil, a euphemism used also quite often in India to describe human waste. Human dignity, he said made it peremptory to stop this practice and provide all human beings with decent sanitation. The second example dwelt with a recent official survey on the water quality of drinking-water reservoirs in South Africa. The conclusions were devastating: the level of the water toxicity was very high. Mining and residual waters were contaminating the reservoirs. The third example talked about the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, and the danger that the flood of immigrants into South Africa would become a vehicle of transmission of the terrible disease.

In all the three examples, water was the key element but the role it played was quite different. Poor people need more water to have proper sanitation and some greens may not see it as a problem of ecology. Developing the mining industry had polluted the water and hence ‘development’ was against taking care of the earth. Lack of clean water in a neighbouring country was raising an issue of health in South Africa. The issue of water raises apparently contradictory claims.

The South African professor passionately defended a vision that took a balanced view between those who defend anti-poverty programmes and those who talk of creation per se. We need to integrate these two approaches: the need to give justice and dignity to people and to take care of the earth (water). Both ‘justice to the poor’ and justice to the earth were two complementary sides of one whole. We Christian need to read together the account of creation in Genesis and the account of the people’s liberation in Exodus.

This is going to be a forceful debate at this pre-Forum because it is a debate that is considerably weakening the forces of those who are committed to fight for both.

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3 responses

26 01 2009
Monfils s.j.

In most of the conflicts could we just stress the importance of finding common interests in searching ways of justice and peace ?

26 01 2009
Aurelio

¿Desde qué perspectiva, horizonte están llevando adelante el Foro?
¿Cómo Escuhcar el grito de los más vulnerables de nuestra A. Latina? He vivido con los hermanos Indios 8 años… Les traduzco del Kichua lo siguiente: “La tierra es nuestra vida y nuestra libertad… (Sentido holísitico) Los Indios sin tierra somos como troncos tirados a la orilla del camino… Vienen los visitantes, la estropean y se van… Vienen los blancos flacos mestizos destrozan la Madre Tierra (Pacha Mama), dejando detrás de sí Los Desiertos Cansados… ¿Quién tiene derecho de vender a su Madre? ¿Quién tiene derecho de vender a su Hermana…? La Tierra (Pacha Mama) es nuestra Vida y Nuestra Libertad…”
Las profundas reflexiones tiene que partir de la Realidad, del contexto que vivimos, en este mundo globalizado, excluyente, consumista… consumo… luego existo, fragmentado… Imatatak rurna canchik… ¿Qué van a hacer concretamente? ¿Como acompañar, servir críticamente y defender la causa de los más empobrecidos, vulnerables de nuestros continentes? ¿Cómo lo haría Jesús hoy? ¿ ¿Cómo ver ya mara nuestra Realidad como Jesús… Aurelio…

27 01 2009
María Teresa

El agua es la base de la vida para todos los pueblos de la tierra, defendamos su buen uso en los paises desarrollados, que la malgastamos porque la tenemos en abundancia y tratemos por todos los medios y con todas nuestras fuerzas de que por su dignidad humana, la puedan utilizar todos los habitantes de todos los paises.
Instemos con fuerza a los Gobiernos para que pongan los medios para que esto suceda.
Hay que crear conciencia en los niños, en los jóvenes, que son el futuro, en las escuelas y colegios, de que los bosques, los árboles que Dios nos ha dado son intocables, no podemos destruirlos porque si lo hacemos rompemos la cadena de la naturaleza y modificamos su magnifico equilibrio, en perjuicio de los hombres que habitan el planeta.
Mi oración por el éxito del World Social Forum 2009 in Belém do Pará. Brazil.

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