By Arthur H. Gunther III


Today’s social media, like Facebook, showcases much me-ism and egotism, but it can also be telling about someone’s character. And that character, in turn, is telling about the individual’s beliefs. It brings respect, even conversion.

An example:

Pope Francis’ new encyclical on climate change, while providing counterpoint to naysayers of human-caused environmental woe, is blasted as leftist and anti-“progress.” The tactic is to drown the messenger’s words by personal attack. Yet, the sincerity of the pope and his frank and deep reach into the fate of humankind on this earth, our common home, makes your ears tune in.

Pope Francis believes the overuse of fossil fuels, mindless pollution of air, land and water, and consumerism that isn’t tempered by need, all of which offer great profit, are an affront to whatever maker you believe authored this world.

Beyond the pope’s words, one could add that If you are an atheist, then the slap comes to the possibilities of this earth that are being wasted. Whether you pray to a god or not, too many of us are not thinking about the future. Our Native Americans believe that we are caretakers of the land, water, air, that we must protect and preserve and better our home for our children. They have too few on their side. Even if there were no God, humanity requires all to share the bounty and to offer it to those who follow.

There can be debate as to how to rescue the earth, how to “progress” but with responsibility and shared opportunity. The pope is urging everyone of any faith or no faith at all to “think future,” to see the economic and social effects of mindless, blind-sided growth that puts profit ahead of responsibility to all.

Now, this is argument and debate, and the climate change issue has been all that for two decades now. The pope’s words spotlight it, hopefully for the better.  If I were sitting on the fence, I would turn to Facebook, where last week you could catch a video of Pope Francis tooling down an Italian country road in a nondescript, compact car, in itself telling of his humility, when the car suddenly stops and the pontiff gets out to kiss a sick child lying on a stretcher.

Any person, especially of such high office, who in an un-orchestrated way helps comfort the afflicted is worth hearing out. Pope Francis wants us to be custodians of creation. The man was already doing that on the side of a country road. That sort of fellow bears listening to, I’d say.

The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@yahoo.com This essay may be reproduced.