Welcome message: The Laudato Foundation Yes: Why and how to conserve nature?
To become each of us custodians of creation, conservatives of the nature of this world, caregivers of its beauty, as Pope Francis asks us in his Encyclical Laudato Yes, we need to understand it to love it (or better still love it to understand it) ), and find our place in the midst of nature and assume and exercise the responsibility derived from that place; in the same way that to take care of your spouse the first thing is to be in love, and the second to assume the responsibilities that derive from the relationship found.
In relation to the first requirement, understanding the meaning of nature is not an obvious task. It requires looking at the very roots of the mystery of existence, and this is an almost impossible task, only feasible for those who can still look at it as a child does. And a child in front of something new, such as his mother, a mountain or a bird, the first thing he feels is interest, attraction. The attraction leads to admiration, and admiration to respect. But that natural tension of admiring and respecting needs to be constantly educated. To educate is to open to the meaning of reality. And to educate requires a company, a person who has seen something before, a teacher who shares what he knows, and that generates a community, and a community in which everyone can be a teacher is a place where he participates. Thus, without education or community, admiration and respect decline.
The ability to be amazed is as a child. All of us who have been with a baby or toddler see the natural state of this sense. The astonishment provokes to launch to discover a world because it fascinates and at the same time it is perceived as something that is not alien, it is the precise state the original to approach the world. From this experience is born the certainty that once the awe and awe are awakened, it becomes a necessity to enjoy nature and life itself.
Reality overflows, like the child who sees the sea for the first time, and its immensity does not fit in his head. It is prior to any imagination or theory about it. It contains the mystery of its own existence, and therefore of ours. Only those who admire know, because they let themselves be flooded with reality, and reality shapes our perception of it. As one who suddenly discovers the woman of his life, admiration will be the appropriate approach to her, until she gradually understands not only who she is but because I perceive such a great correspondence between what she means and what I am and I want.
If nature means the place I mysteriously come from and thanks to which I live, that makes me feel and live well, if I learn to admire and respect it, to learn from it and to participate in its processes without deteriorating it, the ultimate framework that will define our relationships they will have to be full of interest and fascination, which will result in careful sustainability in their management or conservation.
The word admiration or astonishment was used in this sense for the first time by Rachel Carson1 (1965), another of our great inspirers, who used the word “wonder” in English, which has a double meaning in that language; Surprise and wonder. It is this happy integration of two meanings in the same word in original English that reflects the natural process that happens. When marveling, one is always moved and naturally a multitude of questions arise that require knowing more, as the little boy reacts to Nature; he wants to touch everything, he wants to know everything and asks everything, and he respects everything
In relation to the second requirement, caring for nature is something that resembles caring for your own family because both with our family and with the nature that surrounds us, our natural relationship, is or must be of familiarity, of naturalness, of community, all of which should lead us to our commitment and personal responsibility.
Nature conservation is a task of its own. If this concrete tension for care does not exist in us, we cannot ask others (organizations, public administrations …) to do such work, but there will be no guarantee of success. The fair requirement of the State, for example, to guarantee a healthy environment can only be born from this previously worked personal responsibility. And just as conserving is a task that arises from the astonished and grateful human heart before the world, everything that is human has a community dimension. No one can conserve the local by replacing the local rural communities and social conservation organizations, that is the reality.
The Laudato Si Foundation is born to help us educate ourselves in the care and admiration for nature, to encourage and favor the custody of the Creation that Pope Francis demands in his encyclical Laudato Si, and to support those who already care for it. Their programs therefore aim to educate children and young people in this care by fostering an attitude of respect and admiration, as well as investigating ways to support communities in the care and management of their resources through research and volunteer projects.
María Ángeles Martín
Patron of the Laudato Si Foundation
Pablo Martínez de Anguita
Director of the Laudato Si Foundation