Laudato Si on Limousine Liberalism and the “Just Enough of Me, Way Too Much of You” First World Cullers of Third Worlders

Laudato Si on Limousine Liberalism and the “Just Enough of Me, Way Too Much of You” First World Cullers of Third Worlders June 22, 2015

It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage. Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile. This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. At times this attitude exists side by side with a “green” rhetoric. Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

50. Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health”. Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”.[28] To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”.[29] Still, attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.

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  • Bear Fact

    “Still, attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.”

    These are all technical problems that could be solved with a really quiffy laptop. The real problem is “attitudinal.” For solving this problem, the bishop needs to be backed up by a knight. Or a Queen.

  • People are not excluded by happenstance. They are generally excluded due to policy for the convenience of the politically powerful in their local or national jurisdiction. The actual problem of making sure enough goods get to areas poor in natural resources but rich in people is solved for all areas where high population density areas have the freedom and stability necessary to create and trade. Hong Kong is the classic case in point.

    Developments like “selling to the bottom of the pyramid” have renewed attention to meeting the economic needs of the poor and configuring goods and services so that they can be within their reach. The problem is that if the poor are excluded from work and challenging the status quo of the present day economic order, they will always remain excluded in terms of the material goods and services that they can get.

  • antigon

    Some indication as to whether this encyclical will have any impact beyond provoking predictable talking points, would be if the current US Administration changes – not to say apologizes for – as the Nigerian bishops have noted, its refusal to assist the Nigerian government’s resistance to Boko Harum’s depredations until that government starts promoting the quieter Harumesque means of promoting abortion.

  • Jared B.

    Many have complained that Pope Francis found room in the encyclical to criticize every evil in the world except big government, despite the glaring track record the Soviets and the Chinese have with contributing to pollution.
    This passage is probably as close as it gets to admitting that government-led solutions can actually make the situation worse. We’ll take what we can get.