On October 27th, world-renowned theologian Jürgen Moltmann presented a lecture, “On a Culture of Life in the Dangers of This Time,” at Florida Southern College. The following essay will summarize Dr. Moltmann’s lecture. All ideas and content are respectively attributed to Dr. Jürgen Moltmann.

Human life is in danger due to its loss of love, respect, and affirmation. For life to flourish it must be valued, and cherished. Humanity is faced with several challenges that threaten the sanctity of life: particularly the unloved life, and current ecological conditions.

These adversities are not as distant from us as we may think. In my home state of Florida, 49 people died in the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, with the shooter provoking his cause until death.[1] In 2013, the Boston Marathon bombs took three lives, and injured 264 people. One of the perpetrators died in pursuit from law enforcement; the other was found severely injured and wounded.[2] In these incidents we see that the life no longer loved is liable to kill, and liable to be killed. This mutually assured destruction is collective suicide – whoever fires first dies second. We are not bankrupt in recalling similar instances.

Furthermore, reducing “earth” to our environment in turn destroys the space and environment of others. Majority world countries (formerly identified as developing, or third world countries) primarily experience the most detrimental effects of ecological crises. Air pollution in these countries is contributing to critical health issues, such as heart disease and asthma.[3] When we limit our awareness of the environment to only that which is immediately around us, we no longer become cognizant of our action’s implications. For example, the effects of our actions here in America carry ecological repercussions beyond the boundaries of our lives, and into the lives of others.

Limiting our care for the environment to only how and where it immediately benefits us ignores the implications of how our actions affects others. We tend to care less about our own environment than our own convenience. What is ecologically beneficial for everyone is not always the most convenient. Contemporary ecological conditions are a matter of public consciousness.

What is needed then? A response with life:

Everyone faces the same threat, therefore everyone is endangered. Deterrence of conflict and threats no longer secure the illusion of peace. Peace is established through trust and harmonious balance of actions. It both ushers in the presence and is the product of justice. Peace is a process, not a property.

Social justice creates social peace which responds to threats of human life. Social justice unites nations and creates lasting peace.

Ecological crisis is not only a crisis of the environment, but also a total crisis of our life’s system. This cannot be solved by technical means alone. Humanity is challenged to live with a reverence for life because this causes both human society to flourish, and the natural environment to thrive. Human beings are not only a gift of life, but life is also the task of human beings. We must accept these tasks which require courage in times of terror.

The presented threats to life demand a change in not only our lifestyles, but also in society’s basic values. Human life must be affirmed because it can also be denied. Where we are accepted, appreciated and affirmed, we are motivated to live. We retire into ourselves when we experience rejection and hostility. Affirmations of life are stronger than negations of life because it can create something new against negations.

Human life must be affirmed because it can also be denied.

Humanity becomes alive when they feel the sympathy of others. We stay alive when we share the life with others. As long as we are interested, we are alive. In contrast, apathy is a sickness unto death.

Near is God and difficult to grasp, not because God is distant but rather near. And difficult to grasp is what is nearer to us than we can be to ourselves. When we draw nearer to God, we answer the existential question should humanity be or not be? To this God gives an eternal yes from His eternal love. We take a stand to love life, and reject its devastation.

Humanity is no longer living in harmony with the earth.  Modern societies are predicated with progress that expunges humanity. We need a change from modern domination of nature to a reverence of life. Reverence of life respects every single form of life, and for greater community of all the living. We must recognize that humanity is a part of nature, and other things of nature have value independent of humanity.

Reverence of life respects every single form of life, and for greater community of all the living.

Life must be lived; then, life will become stronger than the threat of universal terror. We must have the courage to be, and the courage to live. We must have the love of life, and the affirmation of being.

[1] Ariel Zambelich. “3 Hours in Orlando: Piecing Together an Attack and its Aftermath.” npr.org June 26, 2016. http://www.npr.org/2016/06/16/482322488/orlando-shooting-what-happened-update. Accessed November 10, 2016.

[2] “Boston Marathon Terror Attack Fast Facts.” cnn.com April 8, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/03/us/boston-marathon-terror-attack-fast-facts/. Accessed November 10, 2016.

[3] Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis. “WHO: Global Air Pollution is Worsening, and Poor Countries are Being Hit the Hardest.” Washingtonpost.com May 12, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/05/12/who-global-air-pollution-is-worsening-and-poor-countries-are-being-hit-the-hardest/. Accessed November 10, 2016.