I will try to adapt the parable of the rich, who was exuberantly celebrating, and the poor Lazarus. Luke 16:19-31
“It was a group of people sitting on a terrace now, end of September, celebrating. Since it was already quite cool, the radiant heaters were switched on. The people did not have a bad conscience because they were told, that the power for the radiant heater comes from the biomass power plant, so it’s green electricity.
On the other side of the world in the Amazon rainforest, a family was sitting in front of their hut. They already heard the machines clearing the rainforest to make way for new palm oil plantations. Palm oil plantations that supply the biomass for biofuels in Europe. The father called, stop, we need our rainforest to live, but nobody heard his screams.”
Christ condemns the life of the rich and causes him to burn in purgatory after his death. But he does not condemn him because he is celebrating, Christ was not against celebration, just think of the wedding of Canaan. He condemns him because he was celebrating exuberantly.
Also for us in our society it is not enough just to celebrate. No, we have to sit outside and it has to be nice warm anyway. So we turn on the outdoor heating, although we know that the North Pole will melt in a short time. And these signs of exuberant behavior run through our entire lives. Let’s think of the coffee capsules. Previously you could brew the coffee still in a coffee machine, but then someone said: you work hard, so you can reward yourself with a coffee machine working with coffee capsules. And now we throw away a plastic cup with every cup of coffee. It is not enough for us to live well, no, we always want to live better. We want always more wealth. And we do not realize how exuberantly we have been living for a long time and that we often do so at the expense of others who are far away and whom we do not see.
And we do not stop celebrating with splendor. We are always inventing new solutions to continue celebrating exuberantly. We think that electric cars are our salvation, but where do the important raw materials for the batteries come from? From China and Africa.
The reason that we do not see it and why we can not or do not want to change it, is in ourselves, in our psyche. 29th of September is the day of refugees and migrants and our Pope Francis sent a letter to all Christians. For me, the following sentence is the most significant: “The most economically advanced societies are witnessing a growing trend towards extreme individualism which, combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a “globalization of indifference”. ” As a reason for it Pope Francis mentioned the property “utilitarian”.
There is a cartoon that describes accurately this behavior. We are the strong and powerful, and there are the weak, who are far away. The person standing at the switch will always steer the tram without breaks in the direction of the weak. We can not do anything against it, that’s our nature, our understanding. We will always drive the tram in the same direction. That’s why we will not give up our luxury on our own.
The outdoor heaters will only be switched off when there is not enough current. When the power plants produce less. But how should that happen?
I can see that a real miracle is happening these days. For about a year, kids and teens around the world have been regularly taking to the streets to call for action to save our planet. It is not common for children to be interested in climate protection. Usually, this is far beyond their interests, which are primarily about music, friendships, school or just resting. It is also very extraordinary that this happened almost simultaneously around the world and now lasts for almost a full year. On 27th September 2019, I was at a large demonstration of children and young people in The Hague and I was able to experience this miracle first hand. The children had so cheerfully expressed their desire for climate protection, it was a very light and special spirit filled atmosphere. Despite the fact that about 30,000 children and young people were demonstrating, there was almost no police to be seen, as is the case with other demonstrations seen on television.
And what do the children want? They want laws to protect the environment, which cause the power plants to emit less CO2 because the CO2 warms the earth. But less CO2 is only possible if the power plants produce less electricity. And then there is not enough electricity left to switch on the outdoor heaters. You certainly understand that the outdoor heaters are just one example of our exuberant behavior. And because Christ can not actively intervene, with this miracle He makes sure that we have to limit our “glittering festivals”.
But what will happen later? If they have less energy available, people will become angry and they will blame the children. And then it will be bad for the kids and teenagers if they do not have faith that strengthens them. Belief in the future is too little. This is where the task of Christians begins. We Christians are needed in order to bring the faith to the children.
At the end of September, I took also part in a climate march. Five girls between the ages of 14 and 18 walked 140 kilometers from Wageningen to the Climate demonstration in The Hague to arouse people and open their eyes. There were also many “climate grandparents” with me and I could talk to many of them. But I only met one believing Christian.
Who should explain to the children what Christ wants to achieve when he calls them to the streets? Our job as Christians is to give them the answer. And it works best when we talk with them and walk a bit with them.
I strive for recognition of the miracle described. I am committed to this because I think it is important that Christians and all those who are sincerely committed to protecting our earth are confirmed that they can feel and see the support of Christ. In addition, I am convinced that the recognition of the miracle, more than anything else, shows us that we should not choose the easy way but the right one. That it is our Christian duty to unite all over the world with the children who, rightly so, call us to account and together make us strong for the preservation of the earth.