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War and Peace and the Environment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2024


The flower power of the sixties was ultimately anthropocentric in its, ‘make love, not war’. In America Philip Rule, S.J., observed that flower power died trampling flower beds during a demonstration at Harvard. Nevertheless, the tramplers had a point: love conquers conflict. Conflicts damage the whole earth, or soil, community, for whose health, people, under God, are responsible. Environmentalists, therefore, who increasingly include a significant percentage of Christians, are among peacemakers’— and earth lovers’—best friends. The peace movement, and environmentalists everywhere, are in at least partial ‘intercommunion’, they recognise each others’ ministries.

And their mutually supportive ministries are (literally) vitally necessary. For human aggression among people and against the earth, remains wanton and, fortified by modem technologies, increasingly life threatening to all living beings on earth. The causes of conflict are myriad, including transnational corporation led globalization itself. Human beings are neither wise nor clever enough to manage the biosphere without conflict. World banks, trade organizations, and conglomerates fail to understand that the real, fundamental economy is the earth’s economy, within which all other economies are dependant and derivative. For humans to attempt to manage the world’s trade, or services, is like a child trying to manage a panther, which is pretty much the point of God’s words to Job (Job 38-39). Relentless population growth, with unsustainable demands on the earth’s water, soil fertility, and climate, brings conflict, not only in developing regions, but even in North America. Vanderbilt University’s Howard Harrod argues that anthropocentric utilitarianism, which devalues animals, triggers conflicts over human treatment of other animals.

Original Article
Copyright © 2001 Provincial Council of the English Province of the Order of Preachers

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1 Howard Harrod, The Animals Came Dancing, Native American Sacred Ecology and Animal Kinship (Tucson, The University of Arizona Press, 2000), p. xxiii.

2 Edward P. Echlin, Earth Spirituality, Jesus at the Centre (New Alresford, Arthur James, 1999), pp. 71-86; Salvation of Soil', New Blackfriars, Feb/2001, pp. 88-93.

3 LOsservatore Romano, 22 November 2000, p. 2. (English Edition).

4 Jean Porter, Natural and Divine Law, Reclaiming the Tradition for Christian Ethics (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1999), p. 13.

5 The Festal Menaion, Mother Mary and Kallistos Ware, trans. (London, Faber & Faber, 1969), p. 383.

6 Ibid., p. 15.

7 Simon Jenkins, England's Thousand Best Churches (London, Penguin Press, 1999), p. 215-217.

8 J.M.R. Tillard, Eglise d'çglises, l'ecclçsiologie de communion (Paris, Cerf, 1987), p. 165.