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Leonardo Boff: "A new paradigm of producing, distributing, consuming and living is needed"

Leonardo Boff:

"We have inaugurated, according to some scientists, a new geological era, that of the Anthropocene, in which human activity is responsible for the destruction of the bases that sustain life"

Several threats loom over the life-system and the Earth-system: the nuclear holocaust; the ecological catastrophe of global warming and the shortage of drinking water; the systemic economic / social catastrophe with the radicalization of neoliberalism that produces aextreme accumulation at the expense of staggering poverty; the moral catastrophe with the general lack of sensitivity towards the great majority suffering; political catastrophe with the worldwide resurgence of the right wing and the corrosion of democracies. As they are, the Earth and humanity cannot continue like this, at the risk of suffering an ecological-social armageddon.

Focusing on the recent scenario in Brazil: the heavy rains of February 2020 with disastrous floods that affected several cities in the country and in parallel terrible fires in Australia, immediately followed by unexpected floods. Such extreme events are unmistakable signs that the Earth has already lost its balance and is looking for a new one. And this new could mean thedevastation of important portions of the biosphere and of a significant part of the human species. This is going to happen, we just don't know when and how. The fact is, we are already in the sixth mass extinction. We have inaugurated, according to some scientists, a new geological era, that of the Anthropocene, in which human activity is responsible for the destruction of the bases that sustain life.

The different scientific centers that systematically monitor the state of the Earth attest that, from year to year, the main elements that perpetuate life (water, soils, clean air, fertility, climates and others) deteriorate day by day. When is this going to stop?

On July 29, 2019, the Earth Overshoot Day was reached. This means that all available natural resources have been used up on this date. Now the Earth has gone red and uncovered. How to get to December? If we insist on maintaining current consumption, we have to apply theviolence against Earth forcing her to give us what she no longer has or cannot replace. Their reaction to this violence is expressed by the various ecological and social phenomena already mentioned, especially by the increase in carbon dioxide and methane (23 times more harmful than CO2) and by the growth of social violence since the Earth and the humanity constitute a single relational entity.

Either we change our relationship with the living Earth and with nature or, according to Sigmund Bauman, “we will swell the courtship of those who goto his own grave”. This time we don't have a saving Noah's Ark.

We have no alternative but to change. Whoever believes in the messianic savior of science is deluded: science can do much but not everything: does it stop the winds, contain the rains, limit the rise of the oceans? It is not enough to decrease the dose and continue with the same poison or just file the wolf's teeth. He will continue to be fierce.

“It is not enough to decrease the dose and continue with the same poison or just file the wolf's teeth. He will continue to be fierce. "

We urgently need to assume a different type of relationship with nature and the Earth, contrary to the dominant one. It is worth saying that a new paradigm of producing, distributing, consuming and living in it is needed Common House. The change requires building some pillars that are equivalent to the foundations that support the new paradigm. Otherwise, we will always repeat the same and in a worse way. It is as if we wanted to heal the wounds of the Earth by covering it with bandages.


First: a different spiritual vision of the world and its correspondingethics. This, in my view, does not necessarily have to do with religiosity, but with a new experience of reality, a certain sensitivity and a different spirit. The alternative is this:

Or we relate to nature and the Earth as a trunk full of resources for ourexploitation and use, wanting to submit them to our purposes; this is the current paradigm.

Or we relate feeling part of nature and the Earth, adapting to its rhythms,not above but on the same level as all creatures, with the awareness of caring for and protecting them so that they continue to exist and give to the community of life, of which we are members, everything they need to live and to continue co-evolving. This is the alternative paradigm that implies respect and veneration, since we form an organic whole within which each being has a value in itself, regardless of the use we make of it, but always related to all the others.

"We need a new experience of reality, a certain sensitivity and a different spirit"

This new sensitivity and different spirituality constitute thenew paradigm. It can give rise to another type of civilization, integrated into the whole and another way of inhabiting the Common House. Without this sensitivity / spirituality and its translation into an ecological ethic, we will not be able to overcome the current “chaotic” chaos. We firmly reiterate: everything will depend on the type of relationship we establish with the Earth and with nature: either of use and exploitation or of belonging and coexistence, respectful and caring.

Second: rescue the heart, affection, empathy andcompassion. This dimension ofpathos It has been neglected in the name of the objectivity of technoscience. But in her nest love, sensitivity to others, the ethics of values ​​and the spiritual dimension. If there is no room for affection and heart, there is no reason to respect nature and listen to the messages that, in this case, are sent by floods and global warming. Technoscience has produced a kind of lobotomy in human beings who no longer feel their screams. They imagine that the Earth is a simple pantry of infinite resources at the service of a project of infinite enrichment. A finite planet does not support an infinite project. We must go from an industrialist and consumerist society that exhausts nature to a society that conserves and cares for all of life and lives a responsible and shared consumption. We must articulate the heart and reason to live up to the complexity of our societies.

This perspective of the heart and affection is experienced daily inBrumandinho-MG, where 272 people were criminally victims of the dam rupture and the lack of sensitivity of the managers of the mining company Vale SA. In the action of the local bishop Don Vicente Ferreira, composer, singer and poet, and his expert collaborators Marina Oliveira, Marcela Rodrigues and Maria Júlia Gomes Andrade, among others, all the affectionate care and cordial empathy with the victims' families is revealed. The 272 balloons, one for each person swallowed by the mud, had the following inscription: "It hurts too much the way you left." They were thrown into the infinite sky, where they will be in God.

Third: take the principle of care and precaution seriously. Or we take care of what remains of nature, we regenerate what we have devastated and we prevent new depredations, such as the MST that proposed in 2020 to plant a million trees in areas devastated by theagribusiness, or our type of society will have the days numbered.

Precaution requires that no action be taken or experiments carried out whose consequences cannot be controlled. Furthermore, ancient and modern philosophy has already seen that care belongs to the human essence, and more, that it is the necessary precondition for any being to emerge. It is also the advance guide to all action. If life, also ours, is not cared for, it falls ill and dies. Prevention andwatch out they are decisive in the field of nanotechnology and autonomous artificial intelligence. This, with its algorithms of millions of data, can make decisions, without our knowing it, and penetrate nuclear arsenals, activate warheads and launch them, ending our civilization.

Room: respect for all beings. Each being has intrinsic value and has its place in the set of beings. Even the smallest of them reveals something of the mystery of the world and the Creator. Respect imposes limits on the voracity of our predatory and consumerist system. The person who best formulated an ethic of respect was the physician and thinker Albert Schweitzer (+1965). He taught: ethics is responsibility and unlimited respect for everything that exists and lives. This respect for the other obliges us to tolerance, which is urgent in the world and among us, particularly under the Brazilian far-right government thatfuels contempt for blacks, indigenous people, quilombolas, LGBT people and women.

"Artificial intelligence, with its millions of data algorithms, can make decisions, without our knowing it, and penetrate nuclear arsenals, activate warheads and launch them, ending our civilization"

Fifth: attitude of solidarity andcooperation. This is the basic law of the universe and of organic processes. All energies and all beings cooperate with each other to maintain dynamic balance, guarantee diversity and that all can co-evolve. The purpose of evolution is not to grant victory to the most adaptable, but to allow each being, even the most fragile, to express virtualities that emerge from that Background or Source Energy that makes all that is, that holds everything in every moment, where everything came from and where everything returns. Today, due to the general degradation of human and natural relationships, we must, as a life project, be consciously supportive and cooperative. Otherwise, we will not save life or guarantee a promising future for humanity. The economic system and the market are not based on cooperation but on competition, the wildest. That is why they create so many inequalities to the point that 1% of humanity has the equivalent of the remaining 99%.

Sixth: theresponsibility collective. To be responsible is to realize the consequences of our actions. Today we have built the principle of self-destruction. The categorical opinion is then: act so responsibly that the consequences of your actions are not destructive to life and its future and do not trigger self-destruction.

Seventh: undertake all possible efforts to achieve a biocivilization centered on life and on Earth. Everything else is intended for this purpose. The time of nations has passed. Now, in the context of a new paradigm, it is time to build and safeguard the common destiny of the Earth and humanity. Its realization will only be achieved if we build on the mentioned pillars. So we can live and coexist,coexist and radiate, radiate and enjoy the joyous celebration of life.

By Leonardo Boff

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