It was 49 years ago that we first received an image of ourselves from the Moon. In the process of sending a man to the moon for the first time, Joseph Allen, one of the astronauts who was involved in the planning process recalls:
“Among all the arguments that were made for and against traveling to the Moon, nobody mentioned the possibility that the best reason would be simply to observe ourselves.”
And, that turned out to be the reason, to see ourselves from outside as planet. When we received the photo of our planet, it was a global revelation that changed the way we think. From then on, our consciousness has never been the same. We saw ourselves as we really are; alone in the vast darkness of space; small, delicate, resplendent with life, divine beauty.
It was not until the beginning of the 70’s that we began to think about ethics and care of the environment. This was only commented on by mystics and environmentalists, but since then everything has changed. The world has responded with a lot of important reflections. Now we have the scientific tools and the philosophical and ethical thinking to begin to reason about our responsibility regarding the environment.
I painted this Work (Oil painting on wood panel, 42 x 57″) when I was a member of the Justice and Peace Commission of C.O.R. here in San Juan, Puerto Rico back in 1992, inspired in part because of the deteriorating environmental conditions on this most delicate island, the thoughtless over-development and pollution that was going on, and the destruction of local communities. Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ On Care for our Common Home spelled it all out completely. Its message was clear and eloquently stated. It was a theological clarification of what all the science said, and for me Hurricane Maria slammed down the proof of it!
The painting is rhetorical in concept and presents us with two possibilities: one in harmony with God’s Creation, a future of justice, peace and sustainability. The other of plunder, chaos, endless war and an ultimate collapse of nature and life on our planet home as we know it. Earth is painted in the form of an egg, metaphorically symbolizing the fragility of Earth’s ecosystem as well as her natural abundance and fertility. The metaphor of the egg is also used to show a covenant broken and the resultant rupture of earth’s fragile ecology and humanity’s fall from grace caused by a flawed linear economic system based on the misuse of power and wealth, symbolized by the unholy use of GOLD.
There is no doubt about this. We humans have the tools to destroy or save civilization, because God created us with that capability. But he also created us with free will.
Caring for the environment is a moral issue. Pope St. John Paul II emphasized the priority of ethics over technology, and spirit over matter. If we destroy the earth, we destroy the divine creation, we destroy ourselves.
Is that God’s plan? Is that our plan?