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One Great Family: A New Spirituality
The Theologian Leonardo Boff Hopes for Justice, Peace and More Free Time for Everyone.
[This essay originally published in: DIE ZEIT magazine, December 30, 1998, is translated from the German, http://infolateinamerika.de. Leonardo Boff, 60, is a co-founder of liberation theology who was served with a one year penetential silence in 1985. The theologian currently teaches ethics at the University of Rio de Janeiro.]
One of the most important changes in the 21st century will be the return of spirituality. Humanity will encounter the mystery of the world with more reverence and assume more responsibility for their own fate and the fate of the earth.
In the course of globalization, the awareness grows that we only have this one planet. We must relate as carefully to this planet as to our house or our body. We are all threatened, whether by the arsenal of nuclear- and chemical weapons or by the systematic destruction of the environment. As persons, we are sons and daughters of the earth. Even more, we ourselves are the earth.
The earth is the referential framework for everything, politics, industry, education and international relations. Therefore the society of the next century will forge a new alliance with nature marked by respect and admiration. A greater awareness of responsibility will be demonstrated in the consumption of nature.
The people splintered in different cultures and separated by languages and nation-states return after a long exile to the common house. We will understand ourselves as a single family, the family of humanity. This collective consciousness will force the founding of international institutions that safeguard a shared future. A new solidarity will arise worldwide with more social justice and less viole3nce by a worldwide social contract between the peoples based on three recognized basic values:
1. Protection of planet earth
2. Protection of the human species and its development
3. Peace between the peoples for all time.
Technology is ringing in a new age. Society is thoroughly marked by knowledge, information and automation and has socially integrated the nature of the technological process. Robots and computers will liberate people from the principle of having to work in order to live. With machines, the principle of freedom arrives on the scene, enabling the person to express himself as only he can, as a free creative subject.
Since millions of persons are definitively excluded from the production process by these innovations, the question is raised: How can they be employed? How can the transition from full employment in working conditions to private full employment be mastered?
Workers must be capable of productive activities which don’t only satisfy the needs of markets. The ministries for culture and sports will be among the most important in the governments of the future because they will provide alternative activities for the masses who are excluded from work paid by the market.
The cities will change their appearance. The new relation to nature and the rediscovery of her charms will contribute to millions of people exchanging life in the big city for life in the country or in smaller cities integrated in the environment. Rivers and landscapes will regenerate and the air will be clean again.
Encounter between the cultures will raise everyone’s awareness of the diverse forms of our human existence. The values of every individual, his or her peculiarities, fondnesses and existential philosophies will be viewed as riches, not as a threat for the unity of people. Thanks to comprehensive education on all planes, the person will show more sensitiveness, sympathy, consideration and readiness for cooperation.
This hard-won freedom will redefine the status of the family. The family will no longer be oriented in the first place to propagation. It will be the place where love and intimacy are constant and can become a design for a shared life of two. Couples form their relationships increasingly democratically, expressing their feelings more than obeying social demands.
Like the new spirituality, no doctrinaire, moral and ritual power is needed. With the spirit, the person recognizes the direction of the future and bows in reverence to the great mystery which started all things. Boldly he gives it a thousand names or says simply God. Spirituality is directed to a living encounter with this God and renounces on religious power. Spirituality gives buoyancy to life so that people no longer feel condemned in a vale of tears but as daughters and sons of joy in the common shared life in this world.
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