The annual local balance sheet: buds in the desert. Leonardo Boff

The annual local balance sheet: buds in the desert


From Saint Augustine (“in every man there simultaneously exists an Adam and a Christ”), through Abelard (“Sic et non”), Hegel and Marx, up to Leandro Konder, we know that reality is dialectic. That is, reality iincludes contradictions, because the opposites do not annul each other but are in permanent tension, and coexist, generating dynamism in history. This is not a defect in construction, but the trade mark of reality. No one has expressed it better than the poverello from Assisi, when he prayed: “where there is hatred that I bring love, where there is darkness that I bring light, where there is error that I bring truth…” It is not about denying or annulling one of the poles, but of opting for one, the luminous one, and strengthening it to the point of preventing the other, the negative one, from being so destructive.

Why this reflection? It is an attempt to show that evil is never so evil that it precludes the presence of the good; and that the good is never so good that it suppresses the force of evil. We must learn to deal with these contradictions. In a previous article I attempted to make a global, negative, balance sheet: showing that we are going from bad to worse. But dialectically there is a positive side that is also important to point out. A local balance sheet will show that, filled with hope, we are witnessing the blossoming of flowers in the desert. And this is happening all over the planet. One need only attend the World Social Forums and popular bases in many places to note that new life is springing up among the victims of the system, even in businesses, and the leaders who are abandoning the old paradigm and starting to build a Noah’s Arc.

We should note some points of change that could safeguard the vitality of the Earth and guarantee our civilization.

The first is overcoming the dictatorship of the instrumental analytic reason that is principally responsible for the devastation of nature, by incorporating the emotional or cordial intelligence that involves us with the destiny of life and the Earth, by caring, loving and seeking the good life.

The second is the worldwide strengthening of solidarian economics, agro-ecology, organic agriculture, bio-economics and eco-development, alternatives to material growth through the GNP.

The third is democratic eco-socialism that proposes new forms of production, with nature rather than against nature, and the required accompanying global governance.

The fourth is the bio-regionalism that is arising as an alternative to homogenizing globalization, valuing the goods and services of each region with its population and culture.

The fifth is the good living of the Andean original nations, that involves creating an equilibrium between humans and nature through a community democracy and respect for the rights of nature and Mother Earth, or the Gross Happiness Index of the government of Bhutan.

The sixth is shared sobriety or voluntary simplicity, that strengthens food sovereignty for all, the just measure and self-control over the obsessive desire to consume.

The seventh is the visible leadership of women and the original nations that offers a new benevolence towards nature and more solidarian forms of production and consumption.

The eighth is the slow but growing acceptance of the categories of caring as preconditions for true sustainability. This means separation from the category of development, and is seen as the logic of the web of life that guarantees the interdependency of all with all, thus assuring life on Earth.

The ninth is the penetration of the ethics of universal responsibility, because we are all responsible for the common destiny, our destiny and the destiny of Mother Earth.

The tenth is the retaking of the spiritual dimension, beyond religion, that allows us to feel part of the Whole, to perceive the universal Energy that penetrates and sustains everything, and makes us the caretakers and guardians of the sacred inheritance we received from the universe and from God.

All these initiatives are more than just seeds. There already are shoots that show the possible flowering of a new Earth, with a humanity that is learning to be responsible, to care for and to love, which strengthens the sustainability of this our small planet.

See Leonardo Boff and Mark Hathaway, The Tao of Liberation: Exploring the Ecology of Transformation, (El Tao de la Liberación, explorando la ecología de la transformación, Trotta 2013).

Translation: Melina Alfaro,, done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.



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