|Mining in Goa. Photo by Abhisek Sarda|
Hartman de Souza—a long-time artist, writer and activist in Goa—recently chronicled this ecological and human tragedy in The Hindu. It’s a piece well worth reading. In it, one image tells us much:
From the top of the rise in the village, the view eastwards, where the foothills of the Western Ghats break, where, perversely, all the mining companies abound, the sight is anything but pleasant. A skeleton of hills some kilometres long, once probably thicker with trees and water than the hills of this very village, now shorn bare, and, regardless of which part of the day you view them, standing as mute as the carcass of a giant animal left to rot in perpetual sunset.The same author has another piece in the Deccan Herald. It too is a painful read, including a brief reference to a Catholic priest who seems to have given unwanted real estate advice to Hartmann's sister, who seeks to keep her property from the hungry mining officials that have bought the land around her. Why is she holding on?
Her reason for not selling is compelling, that she would never be able to look at herself in the mirror again knowing that she had willfully destroyed forests and trees and water. When they bought the land years ago, slaving to repay the loans they took for this, they tested soil. Geologists told them they could be billionaires overnight and pointed to where the richest lode was. They built their farmhouse on that spot.The Hindu ran a short bio of this author and fighter for Goa. He seems quite the exceptional man and we should keep him, and the people and the ecology of Goa, in our prayers.
In learning about and praying for Goa, we should also pay heed to what unbridled industry can do when economies accelerate and demand for natural resources reaches critical levels. Gluttony, it seems, can take on terrible forms in the modern world.
While I will have other posts on Goa as I learn more—perhaps with the input of Hartmann de Souza—for now I’ll conclude (as I so often do) with words from Benedict XVI's Caritas in Veritate:
Today the subject of development is also closely related to the duties arising from our relationship to the natural environment. The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole. When nature, including the human being, is viewed as the result of mere chance or evolutionary determinism, our sense of responsibility wanes. In nature, the believer recognizes the wonderful result of God's creative activity, which we may use responsibly to satisfy our legitimate needs, material or otherwise, while respecting the intrinsic balance of creation. If this vision is lost, we end up either considering nature an untouchable taboo or, on the contrary, abusing it. Neither attitude is consonant with the Christian vision of nature as the fruit of God's creation.