Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 17, 2017

Earth Concerns News

Earth Charter, Principle #4 by Sister Irene Kruse, CSJ


Earth Charter Principle #4: Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future generations.

Recognize that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the needs of future generations.
 
When I offered to cover Principle #4, I forgot that I had touched on this idea in my article in the February 2007 issue of Carondelet East. However, I may be able now to approach the topic from a slightly different angle.
 
I did some checking on the internet and found the following quote from the Great Law of the Iroquois: "In every deliberation we must consider the impact on the seventh generation even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine." In the last phrase, is having "thick skin" to be interpreted as being willing to sacrifice and endure some inconveniences while trying to "adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and material sufficiency in a finite world"? I should think so! Do the words imply a necessity to internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling price and enable consumers to identify products that meet the highest social and environmental standards? I should hope so! Having a "thick skin" may refer not only to the consumer of goods but also to the producers and retailers, some of whom resist changes that may be inconvenient or costly for them in time or money.
 
Tradition is one of my favorite musical scores from "Fiddler on the Roof." I thought of the song as I read another of the listings under Principle #4: "to transmit to future generations values, traditions and institutions that support the long-term flourishing of Earth's human and ecological communities." To accomplish this goal, we in society must first, through personal example, indoctrinate our posterity with sensitivity to our values and traditions, respect for Mother Earth and the responsible use of her resources as well as the inalienable rights of future generations. If actions are not louder than words, we will not succeed. Tradition mirrors our past and influences our future.
 
The text of a proposal to amend the Constitution of the United States, entitled Common Property Amendment or the Seventh-Generation Amendment, includes the following: "The rights of citizens of the United States to use and enjoy air, water, wildlife and other renewable resources determined by the Congress to be common property shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their availability for the use of future generations." Nice!
 
I conclude with the following words of Loren Acton, a physicist and payload-specialist astronaut: "Looking outward to the blackness of space, sprinkled with the glory of a universe of lights, I saw majesty but no welcome. Below was a welcoming planet. There, contained in the thin, moving, incredibly fragile shell of the biosphere is everything that is dear to you, all human drama and comedy. That's where life is; that's where all the good stuff is." Let, then, the "good stuff" roll!