On this July 4th, commemorating our national independence, famously built on individual rights, I'm struck by a passage of Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment on endangered species:
33. It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential “resources” to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.
Who would have expected such powerful, direct, almost personal writing about little-known plants and animals from a man at the head of an institution overseeing billions of people?
Brings to mind Gary Snyder's great pledge of allegiance For All, which concludes:
I pledge allegiance
I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.