The Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year that started on 24th May 2020 ended on 24th May 2021, as did also the first of Laudato Si’ Action 7 year plan towards total sustainability in the spirit of Laudato Si with its 7-LSGs. After (1) The Cry of the Earth, (2) The Cry of the Poor, (3) Ecological Economy, and Adoption of Simple Lifestyles. 4thGoal of Laudato Si, 1st Part, and Adoption of Simple Lifestyles. 4thGoal of Laudato Si, 2nd Part, we start deepening on the meaning of the Ecological Education.
The encyclical Laudato Si brings together the two themes, Education and Ecological Spirituality, in the same chapter, dealing with them from the n° 202 to the final n° 245 that precedes the concluding prayer. The two themes, education and ecological spirituality are developed with nine subtitles. (1) Towards a new lifestyle. (2) Educating for the covenant between humanity and the environment. (3) Ecological conversion. (4) Joy and Peace. (5) Civic and political love. (6) Sacramental signs and the celebration of rest. (7) The Trinity and the relationship between creatures. (8) Queen of all creation. (9) Beyond the sun.
The center of this education and then of ecological spirituality is the fourth section Joy and Peace. In fact, as the Pope himself states at n° 223, taking up objective n° 4, Adoption of simple lifestyles, “Such sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full. In reality, those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the lookout for what they do not have. They experience what it means to appreciate each person and each thing, learning familiarity with the simplest things and how to enjoy them.
“An attitude of life that most people do not assume instinctively, but should be the result of a large educational process. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), one of the world's largest nature conservation organization founded in 1961, states it clearly, “Today's children are the consumers of tomorrow and it will be up to them to make decisions, even important ones. If they learn from an early age to take care of nature and lead an ecological lifestyle, they will develop a respectful approach to the environment and its resources.”
The correct information, however, is the first form of solidarity with nature and other people, the basis of all ecological education. Public opinion, especially young people, must know and become aware of what is really happening in their territory and in the territories at the border of their world. Sometimes it is painful to watch the news, read the newspapers and notice the ignorance with which certain issues are treated, including ecological ones. "Information is the sine qua non condition to create a conscience, an open and global mentality. Information plays a crucial role", wrote the Combonian Giulio Albanese about migration, what it is also valid for every type of issue. Sister Alessandra Smerilli, economist and councilor of the Vatican State, underlined in her intervention: "We cannot afford to rebuild the world as it was before the pandemic, because there is no development without care of the relationship with others and with creation."
However, our contemporary consumer culture and the need, which must be recognized, of rebuilding the economies destroyed or put in crisis by the pandemic, demand a contrary path. For this reason, the need of educating young people above all to social co-responsibility, open to the universal nature of the human family, in a different vision of the relationship with creation is becoming stronger and stronger.
“We must regain the conviction that we need one another - says LS at n° 229 -, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good. When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment.”
"Preparing the future - the Pope said in one of his speeches - means putting oneself on the side of the discarded, building resilient and inclusive systems for all", in the light of two keywords "cultivating" and "taking care" of creation. This also implies changing the course in our way of thinking and dealing with problems.
The pandemic has shown us that our economic and cultural system is fragile. GDP - a beloved emblem of financial matter - collapsed, with a worldwide loss of between 14 and 16 trillion dollars. The mechanistic and reductionist model no longer works, says Marco Revelli of the Eastern Piedmont University. However, this too must be acknowledged, abandoning the myths and illusions that have accompanied Western culture in the last 20 years is not easy and society is neither prepared nor willing to do so.
Therefore, a true informative and educational commitment is required of each person and above all for the new generations so that they can face the future in a different way. This is the purpose of this 5thObjective of Laudato Si, as the Pope affirms in n° 222 of his encyclical: “Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and in the Bible. It is the conviction that ‘less is more’. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfilment.”
An interesting, and in a certain sense exciting, but also very demanding formative and self-formative journey.