As hope-filled people, we stand in awe of Earth’s goodness and its capacity to provide abundant life for all God’s creation. We recognize our interconnection with Earth — with air, water, land, plants and other creatures. We recognize the dignity of the human person as an individual and as part of a community. We embrace our power and responsibility to create a human economy that fits within Earth’s ecological boundaries, more authentically serves human needs and builds community.
Yet we witness:
We also witness the sheer increase in throughput of material and energy in the economy due to expanding consumer demand and economic growth that contribute to climate change, species extinctions, loss of biodiversity, depletion of freshwater and other resources, ocean dead zones, topsoil degradation, deforestation, dying coral reefs and the decimation of ocean fish stocks.
We stand firm in our commitment to a new way of life and a different economy, based on the integrity and dignity of all creation, the common good, ecological health and resilience, sufficiency, equality, solidarity, caring for the most vulnerable and impoverished, and decision-making at the most local level possible. This will require innumerable inter-related changes; among them, the four that follow will serve to guide our work:
1) Paradigm Shift in Mindset and Values: An essential shift from an ethic of exploitation to an ethic of right relationship is essential for individuals and for society. This will entail change from a focus on material goods to holistic well-being; from excess to sufficiency; from exclusion to inclusion; from competition to cooperation; from pursuing privilege to serving the common good; from the pre-eminence of humanity to the reverence for all life.
Toward this end we will be guided by the wisdom of our sacred scriptures and religious traditions, especially Sabbath traditions of Leviticus and Deuteronomy and the inclusive table of Jesus, which
2) Public policies for an Economy of Right Relationship: Starting from the deep recognition that the economy must fit within Earth’s limits – where resources are not used faster than they can be regenerated and wastes are not deposited faster than they can be safely assimilated. Policies must change to move toward a steady state economy in overdeveloped industrial countries and sustainable development in impoverished countries. Current institutions and rules must change so that individuals, communities and whole societies can participate equitably in the economy and share in Earth’s bounty. Financial institutions should embrace the principle of subsidiarity, allowing decisions to be made at the most local level possible. Priority should be given to policies that distribute wealth widely and decentralize economic power.
Toward this end we will seek to understand more fully what transformations are required to attain economic right relationship. We will promote a serious reorientation of the global economy away from growth and toward human development. We will pursue changes in laws, policies, international agreements, and institutions to create a more durable, resilient and fair economy. We will examine our lifestyles and decrease consumption. We will advocate for sustainable levels of resource use and safe quantities of waste production, including equitably assigned reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
3) An Economy of Thriving and Resilient Communities: In living the new paradigm and strengthening its hold on society we will shift from a perception of ourselves as independent individuals to ourselves as interdependent members of thriving communities. All have something to contribute as we give and receive gifts and talents among neighbors through barter systems, cooperatives and worker-owned businesses. Community-based investment and economic development will help individuals to deepen their connection with the place where they live and will keep resources circulating locally. This will build community assets and strengthen social ties. We will embrace subsidiarity – decisions will be made at the local level by the very people whose lives are impacted most.
Toward this end we will learn more from the sustainable community-level examples known well by indigenous peoples and already functioning in our local communities in the United Sates and around the world, spread those ideas, participate in them ourselves and express our solidarity by supporting their efforts.
4) Return of Corporations to their proper place in society: In order to achieve the changes described above, it is clear that we must decrease the amount of influence that corporations wield in government and society in general. The reigning forces in our world should serve the interests of the common good, rather than the private interests of a wealthy few. Corporations should be accountable not only to shareholders, but also to, their workers, regulatory bodies, the communities in which they are embedded, and the natural world.
Toward this end we will study the history and design of the corporation to better understand its proper role in a just world. We will declare a separation of corporation and state and work for initiatives to decrease corporate influence in government, the media and our lives. We will work to stop reckless financial practices that exploit natural resources and people. We will help cultivate financial institutions that respect Earth’s limits and ensure economic participation with dignity for all people.
Our call to others: Grounded in our faith and speaking from our core principles and values, we call on people of good will to join us in re-examining the false panacea of a development model dependent on over-consumption. We seek a new understanding of the proper place for humans in the created world and right relationships within the human community and between the human and Earth communities. We place our hope in God’s grace and the human capacity to face all these challenges with innovation, faithfulness, and creativity and to ensure the common good so that all living things might flourish.
November 12, 2009
Adorers of the Blood of Christ, United States Region
Bernardine Franciscan Sisters
Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy
Center of Concern
Collaborative Center for Justice
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Congregation of Divine Providence, Leadership Council
Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes – Fond du Lac, WI
Congregation of the Humility of Mary
Daughters of Charity, St. Louis, Provincial Council
Dominican Sisters, Grand Rapids, MI
Dominican Sisters of Springfield Leadership team
Dominicans of Sinsinawa Leadership
Faith and Money Network, Inc.
Franciscan Action Network
Franciscan Sisters and Associates of Little Falls, Minnesota
Franciscan Sisters of Allegany
Holy Cross International Justice Office
Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters JPIC, USA
International Presentation Association of Presentation Sisters (IPA)
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Leadership Team Sisters of the Most Precious Blood, O’Fallon, MO
Loretto Earth Network
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Medical Mission Sisters Alliance for Justice
Medical Mission Sisters, Sector North India
Mercy International Association
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Pax Christi USA
PLANT (Partners for the Land and Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples)
Presentation Peace and Justice Center
Provincial Council of School Sisters of Notre Dame—Milwaukee Province
Racine Dominican Sisters
ROAR (Religious Orders Along the River)
ROW (Religious on Water)
School Sisters of Notre Dame Shalom North America Coordinating Committee
School Sisters of St. Francis, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – International & U.S. Province Leadership Teams
Servants of Mary (Servite Sisters), Ladysmith, WI
Sisters of Charity Federation
Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Leadership Council
Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Central Leadership
Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul
Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Leadership Team
Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Sisters of the Humility of Mary
Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Justice Office
Sisters of Mercy Northeast Community Justice Office
Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross – USA Province
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Justice and Peace Network
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Ohio Province Leadership Team
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, US National Team
Sisters of the Presentation, San Francisco
Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN Leadership Team
Sisters of Providence, Holyoke, MA Leadership Team
Sisters of St Joseph of Chambery/West Hartford, Justice and Peace Committee
Sisters of St. Francis leadership team, Tiffin, Ohio
Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa Leadership Team
Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa Leadership
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia Leadership
Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester, MN
Sisters of St. Francis, Savannah, MO
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia
Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, NY
Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, Leadership Team
Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis Leadership
Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres District USA
Sisters of the Divine Compassion
Sisters of the Divine Savior, North American Province Leadership Team
Sisters of the Holy Cross- Congregation Justice Committee
Sisters of the Holy Family, Fremont, California
Sisters of the Presentation – Dubuque Leadership Team
Spirituality and Ecological Hope
St. Joseph of Cluny, Province of USA and Canada
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland
Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union, Central Province
In parallel to any strategic and/or comprehensive economy transformation, any one, individually, should be creative to do what is possible, at a personal level. Here are some practical rules and tactics, written by Robert Waldrop (A non violent little way of justice and peace – 2002), helpful to building a civilization of life and love, in a more just and sustainable way, within the shell of the collapsing ruins of the old unjust and unsustainable culture of death and its associated structures of sin and violence:
This essay the latest list in a series which began back in 1998, that considers practical things that people can do to create a more just and sustainable society, a "civilization of life and love." After this "Practical Rules" is a compilation of previous thoughts I have had on this subject and published here and elsewhere, 1996 to date. As nearly always, my focus is on the domestic household because that's where I think we have the most control, and also I think that's where fundamental change begins. It's easy to demand that the government do something, and there are many political changes we must seek, but even then it still comes down to how you and your family live your lives and the choices you make.
1. "Where your treasure is, there will also be your heart." Spend less money in the unsustainable and unjust corporate globalized economy. Spend more money in the local just and sustainable grassroots economy. Where practical, spend your money with cooperative, worker owned enterprises and locally owned sole proprietorships. Avoid the franchises and glo mart chain stores. When you buy from the glomart economy, not only are you purchasing a particular item or service, you also may be financing ecological devastation, destruction of local cultures, dispossession of traditional peoples, authoritarian regimes, energy waste, corruption, violence against women and children, political repression, war, and animal cruelty.
2. "Take this job and love it." Consider carefully how and where you earn your money; aim for earning a "right livelihood". Work with an inner understanding that you are following an honorable vocation that supports yourself and your household, be your job mopping floors or composing symphonies, and thus evade the mind numbing alienation of wage slavery. Help the enterprise you work for or own, whether it is for profit or not, to learn and implement just and sustainable principles that help you do your jobs using less energy and producing less pollution, while being a good and honest neighbor. If your job involves building nuclear bombs or raping the environment, find less deadly and destructive ways to make a living. Consider creating your own job in the grassroots local economy, either by yourself or as a cooperative business venture with friends. Don't be afraid to start small, we often start small or we don't start at all. Earning less money, consistent with your circumstances (in particular the size of the family and debts), is generally a good discipline to follow.
3. "The borrower is the slave of the lender." The way out of that trap is to borrow as little money as possible, pay it back as soon as possible, and live debt free as possible. Don't use a credit or debit card if you can avoid it, especially with a locally owned business. Never finance entertainment and materialistic consumption at any interest rate on a credit card. If you do borrow money, try to do so from a credit union, avoid the big national chains and finance companies.
4. "There is no place like home." Find a congenial place and put down roots. Live in a building that you own (by yourself or in conjunction with others) and that is debt free. If you have a mortgage (literally "death grip" in Latin), make extra principle payments every month. To achieve this goal, it may be necessary for you to think outside of the box and learn to make the most of your circumstances. For example, two families with limited assets might not be able to afford a single family house, each on its own resources. But they could buy a duplex together. Or a half dozen young people could pitch in on the cost of a large older house in a poor neighborhood. Small towns and rural areas are generally better to live in, but if circumstances (work or family) tie you to a large city, live in the less expensive working class neighborhoods that are closest to your job or business. Consider the ability of the property to produce food (and thus create wealth and security for your household) as a major factor in your decision about rural or urban property.
5. "Waste not, want not." Minimize your energy use. Invest in energy conservation and alternative, renewable energies. Super insulate your housing consistent with your climate and if you have input at your job, also your workplace. Don't use conventional high energy air conditioning (learn other strategies for dealing with the heat and humidity of summer). For transportation, the goal is to organize your life so you can live car free or alternatively, to minimize use of a personal vehicle. If you do drive a car, be economical in its operation. Maintain it properly and keep to a self imposed speed limit of 55 miles per hour on the highway. Remember that just because you have a car, you don't have to drive it all the time. You can ride a bicycle, use public transportation, or walk. Never fly in an airplane, unless there is no other way to get there. Think twice about vacations that consume large amounts of energy, look for ways to travel lightly on the land when you leave your home community for business or pleasure. Go to local and regional conferences and meetings that don't require much travel, not to national and international gatherings unless there is a necessary reason for doing so. Be wary of travel to ecologically sensitive areas. When you consider the amount of space you need to live in, remember that "more space" generally translates into "more money and more energy expense". When you consider buying things such as appliances, consider not only the energy it costs to operated, but also the energy embodied in its manufacture and shipping.
6. "Invest in root stock." Grow some of your own food, with particular attention to permaculture principles, sustainable/organic production practices, heirloom varieties, and perennial plants What you don't grow yourself, buy from local growers or processors. Cook from basic ingredients; don't buy junk food, make your own snacks and beverages or buy locally grown and made foods and drinks from neighborhood stores, bakeries, or brewers. Eat with the season, don't buy fresh produce in the winter unless it was grown in your area. Never buy meat, eggs, or dairy products from the "Confined Animal Feeding Operation" agribizness/supermarket system. If you can't find local, free range meat, dairy, and eggs, become a vegetarian (this could be an incentive to organize a local food system in your area). Learn some home food processing skills and depend less on international commercial food processing corporations.. Stop buying and eating fish from the sea.
7. "Live simply, that others may simply live." Reduce, reuse, recycle, make do, do without. Make a personal vow of "material celibacy". Don't even go into stores that sell new merchandise unless absolutely necessary, instead patronize the after market (used, thrift shops, flea markets, barter, garage sales, etc.) If you buy something new, select a locally produced product and/or look for the "cooperative" or the "union" label. If you buy imported merchandise, look for goods that have been certified as "fair trade," that come directly from cooperatives or individual or village producers, or are union made, especially food items like coffee, bananas, tea, spices, olive oil, citrus fruit, and also art objects, fabric and household goods. Avoid the transnational corporations and their products.
8. You are not your wardrobe. Clothing is one of the easiest necessaries to find in thrift stores and flea markets. If you must have new clothes, make them yourself or have a local tailor or seamstress make them for you, or at least only buy clothes with union or cooperative labels. Minimize your purchases of clothes that require dry cleaning; air and sun dry your clothes after they're washed. Don't buy clothing that has been produced in sweatshops.
9. "The right tool for the right job." While avoiding mindless material gratification, you must also consider that you need certain tools to live a more just and sustainable lifestyle, for example, a small grain mill or other food processing equipment and some garden tools. It is better to buy a grain mill from a catalog or store and wheat from a farmer than to buy balloon bread every week from the supermarket. Be creative, several families or individuals could share ownership and use of such tools or civil society organizations such as churches or neighborhood associations could make them available.
10. "Gather your community." Connect with your local neighbors and friends. This is not a time when the Lone Ranger will find much success. Be a good neighbor. Help your neighbors and friends and work with them to make your community more sustainable and resilient. Be active with civil society organizations or informal associations that are working for good causes and goals. If you vote, do so intelligently and with thought about the consequences. If you have no community, find one or create one.
11. "Be alert and aware." Know what's going on. Search out "sidestream" media for news and useful information. Tell others what is happening in your area and be generous in sharing knowledge and skills. Ignore the prevalent government and corporation propaganda. Don't buy the lie that "what you do doesn't matter" and avoid procrastination. Kill your television, or at least grievously wound it. Beware of and resist media messages that encourage gluttony, waste, and instant gratification, which are often the source of the excuses you make to yourself that keep you from doing what you need to do.
12. "Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good." Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. If you can't go all the way into sustainability right away, do small, easy things at first ("pick the low hanging fruit") and as you get better at those, adopt bigger and more challenging goals. If you can't do the best, it's OK to be simply better, or at least good, even "fair to middling." Where your journey is taking you is important, and if you make some detours along the way and lose some time, get back on the road when and where you can. To avoid fools, take steps.
13. "Think globally, act locally. " When the going gets rough, nobody gets thrown to the wolves. This is a basic principle of a civilization of life and love; we ignore it to our peril. Our first concern is naturally for those who are closest to us, but that can't be the extent of our involvement. Our families, friends, and neighborhoods are impacted directly by world events. The proper response to the globalization of greed and gluttony, and to the rise of violence in this world, is solidarity, which must manifest itself in practical actions, not just rhetorical flourishes. An injury to one indeed is an injury to all: we must make injustice visible and protect the poor and the powerless. The more solidarity and cooperation that is present in a society, the more resilient, just, and sustainable it is
14. "Love life as it is." Be present to each moment as you go through time and place. Be open to the wonder of grace that abounds, and be wary of the demons which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Do everything with a heart of generosity and gratitude and with joy and celebration. Pray without ceasing.
+ Live simply and justly in solidarity with the poor and marginalized and be a good neighbor. Make no war on them, rather, be one with them in spirit, truth, and love.
+ Hear the truth when it is spoken to you. Discern the signs of the times and speak truth -- to power, to the people, and to the Church.
+ Make injustice visible -- witness, remember, teach, proclaim, tell. Light candles, do not curse the darkness.
+ Protect the poor and powerless-- listen, learn, educate, organize, empower participation, and respect life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death. <