Why Do I Care?

Why Do I Care?

What absolutely beautiful summer days these are here!  Perfect sunny temperatures, the disappearance of mosquito hoards, abundant flowers, veggies and berries in our gardens, eating in the courtyard—it clearly is a time for huge gratitude for the gift of life, for the generosity and beauty of our beautiful Earth!!

Yet we know that all is not well.  So many in our community of life are suffering from extreme temperatures, lack of water, loss of their habitat, homes and lands and livelihood, and we humans struggle to face the chaos and violence resulting from our escalating climate crisis, our fears of one another, and our greed for power and wealth.

More and more of us see the very ideals and structures of a civilization we have created over thousands of years turning sour, yet we don’t know how to confront and challenge what’s going wrong. It is clearly a time to pay attention, a time to reflect deeply, a time to care and know what we care about.

Recently I was heartened by an initiative of France. Concluding a July Summit of Conscience, the French government sent through its diplomatic channel a letter from leading religious and cultural world figures to the heads of the 195 delegations coming to the Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) to be held in Paris, France, Nov. 30 – Dec. 11.  The letter asks them to prepare themselves by asking a single and personal question:  “Why Do I Care?”

Mother of the Night, Daughter of Dawn

“Why are we asking you to do this?” the letter asks. “Because we hope that in answering this question, you will come to the COP primarily as a conscious human being not just a representative of a government or agency . . . ”

“ . . . the climate crisis . . . cannot be reduced to scientific, technological, economic and political dimensions, however important those are,” said French President Francois Hollande. “It is in fact a crisis of meaning.”

With a question that everyone can answer, other countries have already followed this lead. Almost by accident a movement was born.  On the website www.whydoIcare.org people of all countries are responding to the question “Why Do I Care?” ( in less than 200 words).

Well! This news item stopped me in my usual tracks. I checked out the website, and more. I set aside time to journal with the question. What a release! All kinds of responses poured out onto the pages! –reverence and awe, Earth is sacred!; heartbreak for the suffering, for what is being lost; a sense of danger and disaster I feel; gratitude for the beauty which nourishes my soul, for the amazing gift which is life . . . What desires swelled in my heart, a commitment to participate in hope, in love through the hard times ahead–in every way I can–and there are lots of them!.

So let’s ask ourselves the question, “Why do I care?” Answer it for yourself. (You might find yourself imagining how the November Climate Change Conference would be affected, changed, with such a preparation!)

Pope Francis’ in his encyclical on Care For Our Common Home reflects that the climate crisis is truly not only about temperatures and trees. It is essentially a Human Crisis. There are many changes we can and must make in what we do; but the greatest change is in our human perceptions, our human hearts, our need for meaning.

I once wrote the following in a Calendar: “If we could but see Earth as she is — the sacred dwelling place of God, the harmonious interdependence of all creatures throughout time, we would tremble in gratitude, awe, adoration! And we would weep for our human arrogance, in the destruction and loss of Earth’s beauty and gifts.”      m.s.  ©1989

Are we humans now capable of seeing our true role/meaning as a species in the whole Community of Life? I ask myself. I know that each of us is a beautiful, necessary, creative member, capable of making the choice to move beyond a culture that’s “all about me”. May we realize that we each carry within ourselves capacities for courage and creativity, and the love and generosity to bring forth our care for others, for Earth.

Today I invite you to share your responses to “Why Do I Care” so that I might include them in next month’s blog. Just address your email to npipal@csjoseph.org showing Why Do I Care in the SUBJECT line. Please indicate whether or not we have your permission to give your name as author of your comments. Thank you!

Mary Southard