Taking the UN seriously
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Taking the UN seriously

The key to all this of course is the degree to which we who make up the Church today attempt to develop that potential. As I see it, each of us through our baptismal commitment has a mission to give meaning to every facet of human living – to care for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters as well as to sustain the environment which we are a part of.

So, any Christian that is truly worthy of the name ought to be one who strives to be a complete human being regarding every aspect of human society as important. That encompasses the intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of him/herself and others, and ensures that the social and environmental needs of every citizen are provided for.

An annual guide to many aspects of such Christian responsibilities is provided for us by the United Nations. Since 1959 the organisation has challenged our human family to focus our attention on one particular aspect that is relevant to making our life on this planet as fulfilling an experience as it can possibly be. In this regard, the U.N. General Assembly has declared 2006 the ‘International Year of Deserts and Desertification.’ At first thought that topic might prove somewhat puzzling and, even more so, of no real relevance to your life and mine.

Well, if that is where it stays for you and for me and for the Church as a community then our critics might well claim with reason that we, as a religious organisation, are displaying our irrelevance to the circumstances of human living.

To avoid such an indictment on the one hand, and to attend to what is being asked of us, we ought to take the UN seriously, and do something worthwhile about the challenges they present to us. But how do we address those challenges?

First, as responsible people, we ought to be clear in our minds what the ‘International Year of Deserts and Desertification’ is all about. The UN wants us to be aware that desertification, which is the gradual transformation of habitable land into desert, is a major threat to humanity, a situation that is compounded by both climate change and loss of biological diversity.

This is no minor issue – it is a staggering fact that land degradation actually affects one third of the planet’s land surface and, as a consequence, one billion people in over a hundred countries are affected. While this state of affairs might not at first thought be of personal concern to you and to me on our own patch of earth, that does not exempt us from at least some of the responsibilities we share together as members of our human family.

How each of us as an individual or us as a community responds to this challenge is obviously up to us. The worst thing of course would be to do nothing simply or to leave it others.

I’m sure that the United Nations itself and many other voluntary organisations that maintain a deep concern for combating desertification, and those that care for the people affected by this plight, will propose various practical approaches during the year. It will then be up to us to make a worthwhile response, personally and financially.

If we are caring Christian persons, we will continue to make these issues the subject of our prayers to our caring Heavenly Father. He has placed this world, including its environment and its ecology, into our hands, so in sincere gratitude to Him, let us pray constantly for those needs of our human family troubled by desertification, and demonstrate that our Christian commitment is indeed relevant to peoples’ everyday living.

As broadcast during The Family Counsellor program over Radio Sport 927 on Sunday, 26 March, 2006.
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