Faith Matters

Season of creation: Prophets over profits margins - the example of young people about caring for 'our common home'

The example of young people and their attitude to environmental issues should be a source of inspiration during the Season of Creation and beyond, says Down and Connor youth ministry worker Conor McCarthy

Environmental issues are at the top of many young people's agendas. Thousands of school pupils took part in a rally in Belfast city centre in 2019 to call for immediate action on climate change. Picture by Mal McCann

YOUNG people look to the future with hope. And in doing so, they demand change. As Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si': "They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded" (LS, 13).

In my experience of working with young people, one topic they are always passionate about is the environment, and the release of Laudato Si' gave them even more reason and confidence to stand up for what they believe in - protecting the earth, our common home. I see this in all our young people today across the diocese and beyond.

Young people today are shouting at the top of their voices to protect our world. "Young people have a new ecological sensitivity and a generous spirit, and some of them are making admirable efforts to protect the environment" (LS, 209).

They are doing their own individual bits even though the influences around them are pulling them in a completely different direction. The prevailing culture is telling them to buy often and buy cheap, to dispose of easily without thinking, to consume, consume, consume.

Of course, it is not just young people who are caught up in this culture. These organisations are concerned about their profit margins, where our young people are concerned about the future for their generation and the generations to come.

Why, we all might ask ourselves, are we listening to the global marketing organisations over the voices of our young people who are working so hard to combat the climate crisis?

Are these young people not the prophets we should be watching, listening to, and learning from?

Why don't we look to our young people for guidance in caring for our common home? They are more aware of how they travel; using more sustainable transport options, cutting down on unnecessary travel, consciously thinking about their use of air travel, and often choosing to holiday at home.

They are aware of ensuring our vegetation and wildlife are protected and made sustainable. They are choosing to love the environment and to work hard to protect it.

We see how this influences how they consume also; shopping local, purchasing organic foods and reducing meat consumption. These are the messages that young people are bringing to our world, and we are starting to see these influences on our high street, allowing us all to make better decisions.

Our common home is calling us to be better. So let's look to our young people as our prophets, our role models in how we move forward and act decisively.

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