The holidays bring about one of the happiest times of the year. We brush aside our worries to focus on creating happy memories for the season with fun traditions, decorations, parties, and gifts. While Catholics focus on an underlining reason of the season, there is also a constant pull for attention as it relates to finding great deals and shopping for that perfect and on-time gift.
While gifts can certainly bring joy, it is important to pause and note the rise of consumption which often prompts attitudes that can interfere with the dignity of every person or a disregard for the world we live in. Attitudes that prioritize our immediate convenience and wants which may also have an indirect or direct correlation to fueling realities like forced labor and sex trafficking which target the most vulnerable in society.
Pope Francis talks about a “throwaway culture” in his 2015 encyclical letter LAUDATO SI which highlights how much of what is produced can quickly turn into waste, with a direct harmful impact on our planet, contributing to environmental deterioration, while also giving rise to inequality in the world. The Letter appeals for the need of a new lifestyle to counteract our excessive, often wasteful, use of products and natural resources which carry significantly negative consequences for future generations. This throwaway culture can also translate into harmful disregard for others around us including vulnerable groups such as migrants and people with disabilities to name a few. Pope Francis calls for us all to “seek a sustainable and integral development” where the dignity and well-being of every person is prioritized and upheld within the environment and planet in which we live in.
What one thing can we do differently that can help ensure the dignity of those around us and the planet that we live in?
Gift giving is a wonderful tradition. May this holiday season, we also remember to make tradition spending time with family, friends, and those we love and also reflect how we may prioritize a sense of humanity for those around us, which can help us all live a life of dignity and well-being.
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL