|Photo: Flicker/Catholic Church (England and Wales)|
I would like us all to make a serious commitment to respect and protect creation, to be attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and disposable, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter. Thank you.
Pope Francis. General Audience June 5th, 2013.
Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules. God our Father did not give the task of caring for the earth to money, but to us, to men and women: we have this task! Instead, men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the “culture of waste.”Western cultures—and those tempted to follow the ways of the West—have come to expect that one can and deserves to attain and consume whatever (and whomever) one wants. Advertisements not only insist that you can have it your way and have as much as you want, but that you deserve to have whatever it is that’s being sold—even if you have lived all these years quite well without it. The makers of such ads understand the fractures in the human soul. They intuitively know that the effects of original sin can be used as a foothold for profit. They create characters and settings that excite our passions. They use language that tugs at our insecurities and at the faint awareness of our incompleteness—a lack of love that all humans crave to fill. In all, the vocation of advertising has become a means to convince us that fulfillment comes only from the attainment of earthly goods.
When graced with the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, these virtues will reorient our inner attitudes to seek fulfillment not in what we consume, but in how well we "love in the present," as a young Joseph Ratzinger put it.
This "culture of waste" tends to become the common mentality that infects everyone. Human life, the person is no longer perceived as a primary value to be respected and protected, especially if poor or disabled, if not yet useful - such as the unborn child - or no longer needed - such as the elderly. This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times, we are no longer able to give a just value, which goes well beyond mere economic parameters. We should all remember, however, that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the the poor, the hungry! I encourage everyone to reflect on the problem of thrown away and wasted food to identify ways and means that, by seriously addressing this issue, are a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with the needy.To think of the other as we consume "our" food (or any resource, or anyone), we must focus on what drives us to consume and waste all that we do. And we must introduce ourselves to what—indeed, Whom—we truly seek. As