Lifestyle Change Now! A reflection by Bro. Larry McBride, SM
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Bro. Larry McBride, SM lives at the Maria Nilaya Marianist Community in Patna, Bihar where he works as a teacher alongside Indian Marianist Brothers at the Chaminade Training Institute.
I live in India. It is one-third the size of the United States but has almost four times more people than the United States. Neighboring nations, like Pakistan and Bangladesh, also have high population densities. This situation aggravates any natural or artificial calamity. Recently, the floods in Pakistan have been highly destructive and are thought to result from global warming. At their height, the floods covered one-fifth of Pakistan and affected 13 million people, damaging one million homes. Statistics like these are becoming more and more common. Forest fires, droughts, rivers drying up, and more intense storms: can all be attributed to global warming.
My question is this: If CO2 and methane are the greenhouse gases causing most of the warming of the earth’s atmosphere, and if these gases are directly attributable to the lifestyle to which we have all become accustomed, why do we not say the obvious? Forming more committees or study groups, attending more seminars, and organizing more liturgies, all with the good intention of doing something to stop global warming, will not achieve their purpose if we do not simplify our lifestyles. What does this mean? It means, briefly and in part, eating less meat; doing less air-conditioning; traveling less by car and by plane; buying and consuming less. It means doing with less.
While committees meet and plan, people suffer more and more from the effects of global warming. Urgency does not impress those living in comfortable housing within comfortable neighborhoods unless a forest fire or a flood is coming. In Asia, however, more than a billion people live in low-lying areas near the large bodies of water that border them. Seas and oceans are rising because of the melting ice caps in the arctic and other parts of the world. It is a matter of justice that everyone simplifies their lifestyles, addressing this and other effects of global warming. The billion people in danger of losing everything need all of us to respond so that we are in solidarity with them and do everything we can not to make the situation worse.
One of Blessed Chaminade’s principles — one could even say part of our Marianist charism — was reading the signs of the times and then acting in response to them. Global warming is, and has been for some time, a clear sign that something is wrong with how we treat our planet. If we read these signs and respond positively to treat our world — and our almost eight billion inhabitants — with respect and justice, we will respond from within our Marianist understanding of “family spirit” as embracing the entire globe.
By the time the committees and planners finish their job, the situation will have become intolerably worse. I suppose that the chief purpose of the committees and planners is to educate us about the dangers of global warming and to give us some solutions.
I believe we are already beyond the tipping point. There is no going back to “before.” Let’s not continue to make it worse. We have to make the tough decision: to do with less. The more prosperous nations may be able to postpone global warming’s effects: but Asia will not be able to do so.
I am very grateful for the initiative of the Marianist Family's Encounter Project. One of my hopes is that through it — and other media — the simplification of lifestyle is published and disseminated so that as many as possible have examples to follow — concrete examples of how to respond to global warming.
Lifestyle change. . . now! Thank you.