by Scott Wright
Director of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, USA
We live in a world radiant with beauty and one that is also crying out for redemption. The entire Creation is filled with the beauty and colors of the seasons of Creation; at the same time it is groaning under the impact of climate change: extreme weather events, devastating floods and severe droughts, rising sea levels and melting glaciers, disappearing habitats and disappearing species of life. But this drama is not confined to the impact of climate change alone. Transnational mining companies, and the hydroelectric dams that provide electricity for their mining ventures, are ravishing the lands and polluting the waters, and indigenous communities across the Americas are making a stand to protect Creation.
But something new is happening here; there are new “signs” on the horizon. The stakes – the fate of the Earth and future generations – are higher; the protagonists are new – with indigenous communities and women playing a crucial role; and the spirituality of nonviolence is deeper and more holistic – rooted in the gift of Creation. The recent history of nonviolent resistance is filled with inspiring examples, from Gandhi’s independence struggle in India to Martin Luther King’s struggle for civil rights and Cesar Chavez’s struggle for farmworker justice in the United States.
Pope Francis pointed to these emerging “signs of the time” when he adopted the name Francis, and pointed to what would become his commitment to poor and indigenous peoples, to peace and nonviolence, and to protecting all of Creation.
One of the more remarkable nonviolent struggles in recent years came to light when a young indigenous leader and mother of four children was assassinated in La Esperanza, Honduras. On the night of March 3, 2016, Honduran environmental and indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was brutally murdered in her home. As co-founder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Berta had led the Lenca people and other indigenous communities in a nonviolent struggle for the integrity of their territories and their sovereignty…