Young people embody the change that we all need, Pope Francis writes in the preface to an book by Gaël Giraud and Carlo Petrini entitled “The taste to change. The ecological transition as the path to happiness” (Slow Food Editore and Libreria Editrice Vaticana).
“The good that appears as beautiful carries with it the reason why it must be done. This is the first thought that arose for me after reading this beautiful dialogue between Carlo Petrini, whom I have known and esteemed for years, a gastronome and activist known all over the world, and Gaël Giraud, a Jesuit economist whose contributions I have recently appreciated in La Civiltà Cattolica, where he writes qualified articles on economics, finance and climate change,” Pope Francis wrote.
What the two authors bring forward in this exchange is a sort of ‘critical narration’ with respect to the global situation: on the one hand, they elaborate a reasoned and compelling analysis of the economic-food model in which we are immersed, which, to borrow a writer’s famous definition, ‘knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’; on the other hand, they propose several constructive examples, established experiences, singular stories of care for the common good and the commons that open the reader to a look of goodness and trust on our time. Criticism of what is wrong, stories of positive situations: one with the other, not one without the other.
The authors, Petrini and Giraud, one a 70-year-old activist, the other a 50-year-old economics professor, find reasons for trust and hope in the new generations, he added.
Usually we adults complain about young people, indeed we repeat that the ‘past’ times were certainly better than this troubled present, and that those who come after us are squandering our achievements. Instead, we must admit with sincerity that it is the young people who embody the change we all objectively need. It is they who are asking us, in various parts of the world, to change. Change our lifestyle, so predatory towards the environment.
Change our relationship with the Earth’s resources, which are not infinite. Change our attitude towards them, the new generations, from whom we are stealing the future. And they are not only asking us, they are doing it: taking to the streets, demonstrating their dissent from an economic system that is unfair to the poor and an enemy of the environment, seeking new ways forward. And they are doing it starting from the everyday: making responsible choices about food, transport, consumption.
Young people are educating us on this! They are choosing to consume less and experience interpersonal relationships more; they are careful to buy objects produced following strict rules of environmental and social respect; they are imaginative in using collective or less polluting means of transport. For me, seeing that these behaviours are spreading to become common practice is cause for consolation and confidence. Petrini and Giraud often refer to youth movements that, in different parts of the world, advance the demands of climate justice and social justice: the two aspects must be kept together, always.
Pope Francis further notes that the fact that the two authors, one an agnostic and one a Jesuit, represent different points of view and cultural backgrounds adds to the book’s richness.
“This objective fact does not prevent them from carrying on an intense and constructive conversation that becomes the manifesto of a plausible future for our society and our planet itself, so threatened by the nefarious consequences of a destructive, colonialist and domineering approach to creation.
“A believer and an agnostic speak and meet, albeit from different positions, on different aspects that our society must take on board in order for the world’s tomorrow to be still possible: it seems to me something beautiful! ” the pope concluded.