Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, recently gave an address on environmental justice and the urgent need for a recovery of human self-understanding: as called to connection with the material world and responsibility for its future. Beginning with a reflection on the story of Noah, he travels “some way from Mount Ararat” to the current ecological crisis and offers some incisive criticism. Here’s a snippet:
So we must begin by recognising that our ecological crisis is part of a crisis of what we understand by our humanity; it is part of a general process of losing our ‘feel’ for what is appropriately human, a loss that has been going on for some centuries and which some cultures and economies have been energetically exporting to the whole world. It is a loss that manifests itself in a variety of ways. It has to do with the erosion of rhythms in work and leisure, so that the old pattern of working days interrupted by a day of rest has been dangerously undermined; a loss of patience with the passing of time so that speed of communication has become a good in itself; a loss of patience which shows itself in the lack of respect and attention for the very old and the very young, and a fear in many quarters of the ageing process – a loss of the ability to accept that living as a material body in a material world is a risky thing.