“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5: 24)
Each year from September 1 to October 4, the Christian family unites for the Season of Creation, a worldwide celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home. As followers of Christ, we share a common call to care for creation. We are co-creatures and part of all that God has made. Our wellbeing is interwoven with the wellbeing of the Earth.
This year, the theme for the Season of Creation is “Let justice and peace flow”.
We live in very turbulent and troubling times as we continue to struggle for world peace and the reconciliation and unity of all creation. We are surrounded by war, violence, climate challenges and unjust systems that continue to dehumanise and oppress people around the globe.
Biodiversity is being lost at a rate not seen since the last mass extinction. The hope of keeping average temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius is fading. The world humans have known, enjoyed and celebrated is changing rapidly beyond repair. The futures of young people are threatened by the cascading impacts of the loss of biodiversity and a changing climate.
Over the last couple of centuries, industrialization, colonisation and the extraction and consumption of resources have created great wealth, unequally distributed. In fact, rich countries have grown wealthy at the expense of Indigenous communities and nations in the Global South. Our model of economic growth has largely depended on the exploitation of workers and resources around the world. Now, the world’s natural systems are collapsing at an accelerating rate. And the communities who have contributed the least to this ecological catastrophe are those paying the highest price.
Confronted with this sobering reality, our individual actions during the Season of Creation are important. From evaluating our consumption patterns in order to reduce our carbon footprint to participating in clean-ups and planting trees, every step in the right direction can bring us closer to the goal of rebuilding right relationships with each other and with creation.
However, we must also recognise that individual actions are no longer enough. Justice, allied with peace, calls us to repent of our ecological sins and change our destructive and violent attitudes and actions, on an individual, communal and political level. Justice includes, for example, paying historic debts. At a global level, nations with power and wealth have a duty to deal justly and honestly with communities that suffer most from the climate and ecological crises. On a European level, as a member of the European Union, Malta should ensure that our continent is at the forefront of the urgently needed process of reimagining an economy, rooted in solidarity, which also serves future generations. Here in Malta, the destruction of our natural environment has left us all gasping for air. Maybe it is time to seriously consider what it would mean for us a country to step back and allow nature – and us in the process – to breathe again, heal and regenerate.
We are running out of time. But there is still hope. We need to act now to transition our economies away from fossil fuels – more than ever linked to war and violence – and overproduction. An economy of peace can and should replace an economy based on expansion, domination, and violent extraction. We also need to act now to accompany with concrete measures of support, both locally and globally, those who are less equipped to cope with the huge societal disruptions brought about by climate change. Broken relationships can be restored. Despair can give way to hope. As long as we allow the river of justice and peace to start flowing before it’s too late.