Leonardo Boff started speaking about the financial crisis which is destroying the world.
US$15 trillion which evaporated in a few days, sweeping away enormous corporations, large banks and traditional factories.
Leaving behind, in the midst of cold statistics, mass dismissals, unemployment, hunger, despair and tears.
A crisis which did not devastate poorer regions, but the heart of the empire.
Leonardo Boff reminded us that by subtle tricks capital will try to renew itself.
Economists, transnational corporations and those in power will say that capitalism always has crises and that this is yet another cyclical crisis.
They will try to push more of the same on us, more consumption, more conflicts and more individualism.
However the present crisis is terminal. The challenge is not to remedy what cannot be remedied, but to seek new alternatives.
The present system, ruled by capital and by the laws of the voracious, hoarding, environmentally devastating market which creates inequality and has no sense of solidarity, attests to its own failure.
A system wherein every four minutes a person loses his or her sight due to lack of Vitamin A is declaring its own failure.
A system wherein every five seconds a child under five years of age dies of hunger and malnutrition confirms its own failure.
A system which created inhuman suffering and shocking inequality.
The present system which is sustained by oppressive individualism has proved itself unable to assure the well being of humanity.
An individualism which shows itself in everyday language: My job, my salary, my house, my car, my family…
A system wherein persons are not encouraged to build something together, where competition, accumulation and ostentation predominate in detriment of solidarity, charity and compassion.
A system where children learn early to use the verb to buy but do not know the meaning of to share.
A system which encourages irresponsible and uncontrolled consumerism, and which worships material goods.
A culture which spreads compulsion and consumerism, associating a product with a concept of happiness.
A system which does not know love, charity and compassion and which turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to the appeals of the excluded and the needy.
The opposite of love is not hate, its indifference.
A system which for decades alleges not to have enough resources for the promotion of education or health or for appeasing world hunger but which spends so much on wars, conflicts and the arms industry...
...and is capable of moving three trillion dollars in a few hours to bail out banks, the car industry and brokerage firms.
How did we allow all this to happen? How much longer will we have to wait before we can regain our lost humanity?
A handful of flour and water to ward off hunger with a pinch of salt added on good days.
As well as the financial crisis, we also face the environmental crisis.
The lack of solidarity which rules our social relations. The lack of solidarity towards Nature.
The desire for economic growth, together with compulsive consumerism, resulted in an unprecedented destruction of Nature.
The present economic model failed towards humanity itself and towards the planet.
The well being of all and the preservation of Earth are sacrificed for the profit of a few.
Irresponsible consumerism has increased waste, the production of garbage and environmental problems.
We need a new inter-culturality dialogue between Western knowledge and the traditional ancient knowledge of the indigenous Cosmo vision.
The traditions of native peoples speak of the human being as gardener.
According to the teachings of such traditions, human beings should cultivate the Earth with care and a sense of justice and aesthetics.
To protect the vitality, the diversity and the beauty of the Earth is our sacred duty.
We must take a closer look at reality and adopt a new paradigm of relationship with all beings.
The universe took 15 billion years to produce the planet which we inhabit, this wonderful work which we, human beings, received as our heritage, to care for as gardeners and preserve as faithful guardians.
We are interdependent of each other; we coexist in the same cosmos and share nature together.
Only one mysterious and nameless Source nourishes, sustains and gives life to all that exists. The same Breath permeates all that exists.
Life is a miracle, as beautiful as it is short and must be tended like the loveliest of flowers.
As never before in history, our common destiny clamours in search of a new beginning.
We must promote an ecology of caring which protects the interests of the whole life community. We must co-exist with respect, cooperation and harmony with our neighbours on this small planet – animals, plants and human beings.
Inter-culturality, the meeting with other traditions and other cultures enriches our vision of the world and of life.
We must have eyes to see those who are different. Have ears to hear their voices, their melodies, their songs and their stories…
We share a common Home. We have a common origin and, for sure, the same common destiny.
The many flowers with their different colours and shapes. Superficial differences, for the earth which nurtures and sustains them is one.
The same Breath encourages them giving them meaning and a reason for living.
Todays challenge is to regain forgotten utopias and re-write our common dream.
The above text is based on a talk given by Leonardo Boff during the World Social Forum in Belém do Pará, Brazil, in January 2009. For more information on this theme visit: www.forumsocialmundial.org.br www.leonardoboff.com.br
Musical theme: Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers (instrumental version )