Finding one voice from different parts of the world is not easy, but the Core Group of Ecojesuit, the global Jesuit network for ecology, has been trying to do just that for almost three years.
The Eco-Bites editor represents Europe at these Core Group meetings which usually take place around lunch time in Brussels. The African member of the group, in Nairobi, is at mid afternoon, while the North and South Americans are attending an early morning meeting and the Indian member is in the early evening. Our Coordinator, Pedro, on the Philippine island of Mindanao is in the dark of night with a computer is connected by satellite, the only possible connection in his village. This happens more or less every month.
The Eco-Bites editor first got involved in the autumn of 2018 when he was new to the job and had very little to say. He found the conversation slightly bewildering as we were trying to find a shared theme around which to develop the cooperation being called for by the Jesuit Curia in Rome, which had appointed Pedro to develop this network.
Europe’s representative in the Ecojesuit Core Group was not only new to job, he did not have kind of stories which were to be found in the other ‘regions.’ Europe has no harvest withering drought, no forest fires, no melting glaciers. Not that the other members were talking in such vivid terms. They were after all trying to find a common vision.
If you look at the monthly editorials which feature on the Ecojesuit webpage over the past few years various shared themes are tried out. The first such theme was water. We all need water wherever we are but, for some reason, that theme did not hold and another theme emerged. This time it was agriculture. Without agriculture we cannot eat but somehow this theme also faded from our attention.
More recently yet another theme has emerged from our conversations in the Ecojesuit Core Group and it has comes to command the kind of attention which the other themes lacked. Somehow we have discovered that the theme of indigenous peoples is holding our attention. Water and agriculture, of themselves, are abstractions but people and their stories have the power to change us. It’s not just that indigenous peoples suffer because heedless exploitation. Their stories are not just about victim hood. They have insights and enduring wisdom, which we cannot ignore.
Edmond Grace SJ
Secretary for Ecology