Where are we going?

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

We no longer need God to intervene to put an end to his creation; it was up to our generation to witness the possibility of its own destruction

There is a convergence of countless crises that are afflicting all of humanity. Without needing to mention them, I limit myself to two, extremely dangerous and even lethal: a nuclear war between militarist powers, vying for hegemony in running the world. As security is never total, the formula 1+1=0 would work. That is, one would destroy the other and take the entire human life system with it. The Earth would continue to be impoverished, full of wounds, but it would still revolve around the sun for we don't know how many millions of years, but it would be this Satan of life who is the deranged human being who has lost his sapient dimension.

The other is the increasing climate change that we don't know at what degree Celsius it will stabilize. One fact is undeniable, stated by skeptical scientists themselves: science and technology arrived late. We have passed the critical point at which they could still help us. Now they can only warn us of the extreme events that will come and mitigate the harmful effects. Climatologists suggest that, in the very next few years, the climate would possibly settle, globally, at around 38-40 degrees Celsius. In other regions it can reach around 50oC. There will be millions of victims, especially among children and the elderly who will not be able to adapt to the changed situation on Earth.

These same scientists have warned States about the fact that millions of migrants will leave their beloved lands due to excessive heat and the frustration of food crops. Possibly, and it is desirable, there must be a global and plural planetary governance, made up of representatives of peoples and social classes to think about the changed situation on Earth, not respecting the obsolete limits between nations. It's about saving not this or that country, but all of humanity. Pope Francis said realistically several times: this time there is no Noah's ark that saves some and leaves the rest to perish: “either we are all saved or no one is saved”.

As can be seen, we are facing a limit situation. Awareness of this urgency is very weak among the majority of the population, numbed by the capitalist propaganda of unbridled consumption and by the States themselves, largely controlled by the dominant classes. These only look to a horizon ahead, credulous of unlimited progress towards the future, without taking seriously that the planet is limited and cannot handle it and that we need 1,7 planets Earth to satisfy their sumptuous consumption.

Is there a way out of this accumulation of crises, of which we restrict ourselves to two? I believe that neither the Pope nor the Dalai Lama, nor any privileged wise man can predict what our future will be. If we look at the evils of the world, we have to agree with José Saramago who said: “I'm not a pessimist; the situation is terrible.” I remember the charming Saint Francis of Assisi who, enchanted, saw the bright side of creation. He asked, however, his confreres: not to consider the evils of the world too much so as not to have reasons to complain about God.

In a way, we are all a bit like Job, who patiently complained about all the evils that afflicted him. We also complain because we do not understand why there is so much evil and especially because God remains silent and often allows evil to triumph, as it does now in the face of the genocide of innocent children in the Gaza Strip. Why don't you intervene to save your sons and daughters? Isn’t He “the passionate lover of life” (Wisdom 11,26)? Freud, who did not consider himself a man of faith, is credited with saying the following: if I appear before God, I have more questions to ask him than he does me, because there are so many things I never understood when I was on Earth.

Neither philosophy nor theology has so far been able to offer a convincing answer to the problem of evil. At most it is to affirm that God, when approaching us through the incarnation – not to deify the human being – but to humanize God – was to say that this God goes with us into exile, takes on our pain and even our despair on the cross. This is great, but it doesn't answer the reason for evil. Why did the humanized God have to suffer too? “Although he was the Son of God, he learned obedience through the suffering he had” (Hebrews,5,8). This proposal does not make the evil disappear. He remains like a thorn in the flesh.

Perhaps we have to be satisfied with the statement of Saint Thomas Aquinas who wrote, admittedly, one of the most brilliant treatises “On Evil” (from Malo).In the end he surrenders to the impossibility of reason to account for evil and concludes: “God is so powerful that he can bring good out of evil”. This is confident faith, not reasoning reason.

What we can say with certain certainty: if humanity, especially the capital system with its large globalized corporations, continues with its logic of exploiting natural goods and services to exhaustion due to their unlimited accumulation, then we can say, in the expression of Zigmunt Bauman: “let us join the procession of those who are heading towards their own grave”.

After having committed the worst crime ever perpetrated in history: the judicial murder of the Son of God, nailing him to the cross, nothing is impossible anymore. As Jean-Paul Sartre said after the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: human beings have appropriated their own death. And Arnold Toynbee, the great historian, commented: we no longer need God to intervene to put an end to his creation; It was up to our generation to witness the possibility of its own destruction.

Pessimism? No. Realism. But it also belongs to our possibility of taking the leap of faith that is inscribed as a possible emergence of the cosmogenic process: we believe that the true master of history and its destiny is not the human being, but the Creator who from the ruins and ashes can create a new man and a new woman, a new heaven and a new Earth. There life is eternal and love, celebration, joy and communion of everyone with everyone and with the Supreme Reality will reign. Et tunc erit finis.

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of Inhabiting the Earth: what is the path to universal fraternity (Voices). [https://amzn.to/3RNzNpQ]


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