Caring for the Common Good

Through the internalisation of relational and rational rules, social philosophy presents man as an exclusively social being. For Michel Tournier, man “carries within him a complex scaffolding”. As a result, man has a vocation to build himself by constructing his community, his society and his environment. In this respect, to rethink ecology today, man must become aware of his mission to defend human life from conception to death, and all forms of life on earth. However, it is imperative to mention that in the current era, the earth is facing several major challenges. These make living conditions difficult. In his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis highlights the irresponsible use of the heritage of creation. For him, the earth “cries out because of the damage we are causing it through the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed in it” (LS no. 2). This cry takes many forms today: people devastated, oppressed, mistreated, misunderstood, judged; an environment neglected. It is important, therefore, that in celebrating ecology, we think about and take palliative action in the face of these scourges suffered by the earth, our communities and the whole of humanity. To achieve this, we need to put two things into practice: we need to do everything we can to preserve the common good, and we need to have a strong desire to change the current order.

Doing everything to preserve the common good

From an ecological community perspective, wanting to do good means establishing a close link between what we say and what we do; it also means adopting a way of living and acting that can put an end to irresponsible acts and practices that are harmful to the earth, and consequently to mankind. It also means encouraging values that facilitate life and peaceful coexistence between people, and between people and the earth. It’s about putting an end to hatred and depraved morals. It’s time to experience the thirst for love, justice and social equity. It’s a time to pool our energies to combat the pollution of the earth and our social, intellectual, ethnic and racial differences. It’s also a time to opt for a tried and tested method of doing good, crowned by: sharing, charity, solidarity, mutual trust, raising awareness of climate change; all with a view to making the earth, our communities and our society a better place to live.

An ardent desire to change the current order

Change is a project that takes place in a dynamic context. However, it only begins when we make our first effort to improve things. Each of us may have a vision of what that change should be: what about me? It’s highly likely that we don’t manage to excel in life, not because we’re incapable of doing so, but rather because we lack confidence in the materialisation of our ideas and projects. So it’s time to use our strengths, our thoughts and our intellectual abilities to build a better future. John Masson, in his book Imitation is limitation, says this: We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are.

Change requires personal and community awakening. If we want to live in a perfect environment or in a community that bears witness to the love and joy of the Gospel, we must undoubtedly conform to the requirements, objectives and duties of our community, in the context of the Missionaries of Africa, i.e. conform to the community project. Perhaps the dream of the majority of missionaries in Africa is to see this society improve positively by responding without hindrance to missionary needs. Celebrating ecology today means reviewing the way we treat our brothers and sisters. It means thinking about a new society with renewed confreres. It means making our communities pleasant for everyone. It also means making our little Society a family for all, where everyone has a place and can express themselves, act, denounce and announce a better tomorrow. But it would be more concrete to see each of its members give body and soul to this ultimate goal. It was not for nothing that Cardinal Lavigerie insisted on the Esprit de Corps. In one of his letters, we read: “My last recommendation, my dear sons, the most important of the three, the one without which all the others would be useless, is the recommendation of the old apostle of Ephesus: Filioli, diligite invicem. Love one another. Remain united, united in heart, united in thought. Truly form a single family; be strongly esprit de corps in the Christian and apostolic sense of the word. Defend one another, support one another, always help one another. May discord never penetrate among you; may you always be ready to defend each other as one man, against all outside adversaries, your persons; in a word, may you not only be united, but one” (Cardinal Lavigerie, 11 November 1874).

Today, we have to ask ourselves how many people are really on this quest? How many bear false witness in order to harm or discourage others? How many give of themselves to lift others up?


                                                               By: Guscard Igunzi, (theology student, Limete/ Kinshasa)

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