A Change of Heart

A Change of Heart and Mind

Pope Francis has called for a change of heart and mind regarding protection of Earth. He has stated very clearly that actions which support the future of the planet “presuppose a transformation on a deeper level” and reiterates St. Pope John Paul II’s words “We must encourage and support an ecological conversion.”

Leading global sustainability scientist, Dr. Kimberly Nicholas, says it is time for humanity to adopt a new mindset. Dr. Nicholas says very bluntly that humans are standing on the edge of a cliff brought on by an Exploitation Mindset which sees producing and consuming more material goods as the path to progress and purpose. She proposes a Regeneration Mindset where “we’d conceptualize ‘growth’ as a process of renewal and restoration and care for what matters most.” “This point of view”, she continues, “means finding a way for everyone, now and in the future, to live a good life, within the limits of the biosphere.” Both Pope Francis and Dr. Nicholas are calling for a transformation in the way we view the world and interact with it.

Scientists from around the world are telling us that our planet is in great peril. A previous blog cited the most recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This report cited that “Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.”

As the New Year begins, it is an opportune time to reflect on our own lifestyles and ask what steps we can take to move towards a Regenerative Mindset. Dr. Nicholas cites three principles of regeneration: 1) Respect and care for people and nature; 2) Reduce harm at its source, not by treating its symptoms; and 3) Turn our impulse to build toward the building of resilience.

The first principle challenges us to recognize that humans are not the only inhabitants of planet Earth. We share this space with a host of other species; thousands upon thousands of plants and animals as well as rivers, mountains, rocks, glaciers, oceans and more. Each is essential to the well-being of the whole. Where do you see yourself in the community of creation? Do you recognize the value of all that is not human? What steps will you take to live more sustainably and in harmony with the world around you?

Governments are beginning to take steps to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change, but that only treats the symptoms, not the root cause of the problems. According to Dr. Nicholas, “To reduce harm to people and nature, trace it back to its origins and look for systemic solutions that stop the harm as completely and quickly as possible…The solution to pollution is not dilution but prevention: designing systems from the start that work with rather than against physics, chemistry, and biology.” Take the time to become better informed about climate change, its causes and effects, and then share your knowledge with others and consciously make choices that reduce your carbon footprint.

Resilience is the ability to recover from setbacks and maintain essential functions. Resilient systems are flexible and work best when they start at the local level and then expand outwards. How can you work with others to make your local community more resilient?

A Regenerative Mindset calls for an ecological conversion. Ecological conversion is defined as the “transformation of hearts and minds toward greater love of God, each other, and creation. It is a process of acknowledging our contribution to the social and ecological crisis and acting in ways that nurture communion: healing and renewing our common home.”

What commitment will you make as the New Year begins that will nurture communion and lead towards the healing and renewing of our common home? Imagine if everyone took just one step…



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