The Earth is Screaming: an editorial on the burning of the Amazon

Our Common Home is on Fire…our Earth is screaming.
by Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE Secretary General

We watch in disbelief. The images of the burning Amazon bewilder and shock us. These images touch on so many of our struggles, and the fight to save the Amazon is one that encompasses all that matters most and all that is most urgent right now.

As CIDSE, we have been engaging for months in preparing the upcoming Synod on the Amazon Region. In October of this year, Catholic Bishops and Indigenous Leaders from the 9 Amazon countries will gather to reflect on life in this essential forest and how it connects all life on this Earth. As we try to support the calls of people of the Amazon to wake up and pay attention, the earth cries out and suddenly we understand that we are much further along than we imagined and that the threat is even more terrifying and real. For years we have been fighting for ambitious and binding commitments from States and International institutions, on climate justice, on corporate responsibility and accountability, on human rights, and on access to fair and sustainable energy and food systems. All of these questions rise to the surface as we watch the Amazon burn.

We speak of our Common Home) (Laudato Si’), because we are all responsible for each other and for how our actions and choices affect each and every being around the world. We know this to be true, and this has great implications for international politics and our current economic model of development. We know beyond any doubt that we are living far beyond the planetary boundaries. We know that our thirst and hunger for growth, profit, wealth, and power are in direct contradiction with the preservation of life on this planet, with the preservation of Indigenous cultures and traditions, with the renewal of species – both plant and animal, with the safeguard of our clean water sources, and indeed even with feeding ourselves. We know that the exploitation of the resources and people of the earth, the scale of consumption, is supported by structures of power, privilege, colonialism, and injustice. They are fueled by abuse and selfishness. We have created these structures and we endure them, tolerate them and hold them up, even though they hurt us and dehumanize us.

This path we have been on is without solidarity, dignity, caring, participation, or love. These values are our most powerful tools against indifference and injustice. We must reclaim them.

This is a time for us to stand again, to reclaim our right to exist as whole beings, connected to the earth, to the forest, to the rivers, and to each other, as well as listen to the millions of stories of hope that remind us that we can still change.

We search for the right words, the right reactions, the right actions. We go from feeling deep grief, to fear, to powerlessness, to anger, to compassion, to love, and then we find hope and we hold on to it and we don’t let go because we do not have the luxury of giving into hopelessness and despair, not while others are still fighting for justice.

Translated into French by Entraide et Fraternité.