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Religious leaders must inspire contemplation of the environment

Let's protect the environment from an unscrupulous developmental ideology that destroys and recreates the environment for commercial purposes

Breathtaking: Lush forest canopy - LINDA LUMAYAG

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The Association for Welfare, Community and Dialogue welcomes Pope Francis’ statement that it is essential for all world religions to unite in opposing the “rapacious” devastation of the environment.

The statement was made in connection with the COP28 climate conference in Dubai.

Religions, he said, “need, urgently, to act for the sake of the environment,” educate their members to “sober and fraternal lifestyles” instead of wasteful ones and work for a return to the individual contemplation of nature’s grandeur.

“This is an essential obligation for religions, which are called to teach contemplation, since creation is not only an ecosystem to preserve but also a gift to embrace,” Francis said.

We believe nature’s grandeur cannot be fully appreciated if there is a lack of contemplation of its beauty. According to Catholic theologian Jennifer Newsome, beauty, as it is understood in the most metaphysical and theological sense, bears within itself a capacity to awaken and stir human beings from their stupor into “glorious unrest”.

Environmentalists in the secular West tend to describe the environment purely from a scientific aspect while ignoring its beauty, to which metaphysical contemplation provides clarity and meaning to one’s being. This is clearly missing in the environmental discourse in the major forums of the world today that deny or avoid the religious and spiritual contribution.

Malaysia is gradually going through a green phase in its socioeconomic development. It would need its multi-ethnic religious leaders to guide their respective communities to play a significant role in protecting the environment from an unscrupulous developmental ideology that destroys and recreates the environment for commercial purposes while the earth continues to suffer from climate change.

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Inter-religious understanding of the environment from a contemplative dimension could forge unity and common purpose in Malaysian society, which is divided among ethnic and religious lines.

We need to contemplate the metaphysical and theological sense of the beauty of our environmental landscape, and it should be inculcated in the religious education of young people from kindergarten to university.

Religious leaders should play a significant role towards this end by guiding their communities to be contemplative in their interactions with the environment. – The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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