"The American dream is over" said the famous USA folk singer Joan Baez in an interview a few months ago. This American dream basically consists of everyone being able to be successful, socially prestigious and rich. This dream, which is shared by many people in many countries around the world, has crashed into reality and has made it clear that the pursuit of individual happiness and personal wealth has ruined healthy coexistence. It has also encouraged indifference, self-centered (cf. Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium) and lack of solidarity, leading inevitably to social fracture. For example, the poorest people in the USA, that represent the 25% of the population, barely have access to the health system.
Are we able now, with the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus on the whole planet, to turn around our way of thinking, being, acting, working and producing? Or are we going to return as soon as possible to the "business as usual" as after 2008 crisis, without any change in the economic system, without adjustments in the financial-monetary world and with the same "vultures" again in the political-economic power, even if it has serious consequences for the whole of humanity? Are we learning something?
We have to realize that our economic efficiency actually causes absolute inefficiency in solving the global problems that all of us suffer, no matter what.
There is an urgent need at the level of national and international politics to make valuable decisions that will bring us out of this dark maze. These decisions are needed also at the personal and local level, at the community, parish and diocesan levels. The fundamental task is to contribute actively at all levels, especially on the personal level, at home, on the parish and at work, so that a new mentality may be installed in each person and that we may opt for a new style of life (cf. Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' of Pope Francis, 203-208) in which it is expressed that the economy, the sciences and (bio) technologies are at the service of human beings and nature and not against them. Let us promote a Easter mentality of "love one another".
Essential in this process is to reorient education so that it is not at the service of the ideology of success as it is today, but rather that subjects such as "Ethics of Responsibility" and "Philosophy of Peace" are compulsorily taught, contributing to the formation of generations with a new integral ecological mentality and healthier and more balanced ideas in concepts such as freedom and responsibility. On a common way, we can seek a universal ethic by considering the golden rule of Natural Law, which all religions and cultures share, on human dignity: "treat others as you would like them to treat you".
As Christian believers and as people of good will, we think of the famous words of Pope Benedict XVI addressed to the intellectual, political and ecclesial world, gathered at the "Colège des Bernardins" in Paris on September 12, 2008, referring to a new universal ethic: "this 'ethos' should involve the will to act in such a way that man's work and determination of history are a collaboration with the Creator, taking him as a model. Where this model is lacking and man becomes himself a deified creator, the formation of the world can easily be transformed into its destruction".
The new world needs to do away with an unsustainable and inhuman economic system in which ethics are detached from economy, and ethics must work to form an international community that promotes fraternity and solidarity, knowing that we live with the same dignity as people in a Common Home and that we are co-responsible for entering together into a future that is more just, more ecological, more peaceful and therefore happier.
Member of the Spanish Justice and Peace Council
Justice and Peace Commission, Diocese of Palencia