“The Globalisation of Indifference”..
On the Island of Lampedusa last October and following the drowning of many migrants Pope Francis said: “Who is responsible for the blood of these brothers and sisters? No one! We all respond this way: not me, it has nothing to do with me, there are others, certainly not me. But God asks each one of us: ‘Where is the blood of your brother that cries out to me?’ Today no one in the world feels responsible for this; we have lost the sense of fraternal responsibility. In this world of globalisation we have fallen into a globalisation of indifference. We are accustomed to the suffering of others, it doesn’t concern us, it’s none of our business.”
These are harsh judgements to hear. But they apply to all of us. We can ask why take such appalling risks on leaky boats, across an extremely unpredictable seas. Why do they leave their own countries? There are many possible answers and we could debate the rights and wrongs ad infenitum. But the reality is people will always move – there will always be reasons to do so.
We are now faced with the reality of climate change – this will be a major cause of migration. “We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II of the ntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which issued its most authoritative report to date on Monday, March 31. Our actions and life styles we are changing the climate.
“Changes will be severe, pervasive and irreversible”. The report says. “Observed impacts of climate change have already affected agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some people’s livelihoods.” Whether we like it or not, this concerns us here in Ireland. We are part of an interconnected world. Solidarity with those weaker and less well off with us must continue to strengthen. If the low lying lands of Bangladesh, in the Ganges delta, are compromised, where will these millions of people go? If droughts continue to devastate fragile ecosystems in Africa, bringing as a result unrest among peoples, malnutrition, the spread of disease and so on, what is our responsibility? More stable democracies with relatively wealthier resources like our own, will be called upon more and more, not less and less, to share their resources, whether offering people a new life, or being willing to make changes to limit and cut back on our own life styles. “Live simply so that others may simply live” was the appeal of Pope Paul V1 over sixty years ago.
To return to the challenging words of Pope Francis, quoted above: “who is responsible?…we have lost the sense of fraternal responsibility. …we are accustomed to the suffering of others…it doesn’t concern us…” But it does! – As Christians we are our brother’s keeper – As Christians it cannot be us and them – it must be WE.