A 21st century Manifesto for Earth Democracy

Most reports of Pope Francis’s Encyclical in the press before the formal launch yesterday reduced this path breaking document with 246 paras on the contemporary ecological crisis and human crisis to the 4 paras on climate change (para 23-26). But Laudato Si is much wider and much deeper.
It is first of all a call for a change in consciousness and a world view from the dominant paradigm of the domination over nature and its destruction, to one where we see the Earth as our Mother, as our common home.

The ‘Laudato Si’ opens with St Francis’ prayer – “Praise be to you my Lord, through our sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs”.
This resonates so deeply with the Indian philosophy of Vasudhaiv Kutumkan, the Earth Family.
It resonates with the contemporary movement for the Rights of Mother Earth.
It resonates with cultures and faiths across the world. The encyclical is an invitation to “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of the planet” (paragraph 14) and this includes biodiversity, air, water, oceans.
It is clear that “to protect our common home we need to bring the whole family together” (13). The Encyclical goes on to say …

“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods which God has endowed her with. We have come to see ourselves as her lord and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the soil, in the water, in the air, and in all forms of life” (2).

Soil is referred to frequently, including in the contributions of soil and land degradation and deforestation to climate change. And the Pope reminds us that “we have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the Earth”. (Gen 2:7). Navdanya’s manifesto Terra Viva released at the Expo in the Year of Soils is a celebration of Soil as as the basis of our lives, of “humus” as the root of “human”. We are the soil.

The ‘Laudato Si’ is very critical of the privatisation of water, and the idea that life forms are just mines of genes useful to business.

“It is not enough to think of different species merely as potential ‘resources’ to be exploited, while overlooking the fact they have value in themselves ” (33). The intrinsic worth of all beings and all biodiversity is the ethics on which Navdanya is founded. That is why we say there should be “No patents on Seed” and “No patents on Life”.

The ‘Laudato Si’ is cautious on the question of GMOs, but does point to the threats to small farmers. And it indicates that through Biotechnology and knowledge related to DNA a handful of interests are controlling the fate of the Earth and humanity. “It is extremely risky for a small part of humanity to have control” (104).
Source: Seed Freedom