If you are part of a faith-based organization or advocating for the SDGs, there’s a big chance you would’ve already met this week’s Living Laudato Si’ featured member.
BREX AREVALO is an active member of Ecojesuit, the global ecology network of Jesuits and partners, and the 2030 Youth Force in the Philippines, a youth-led group advocating for the SDGs.
On both fronts, he deals with promoting sustainable development and engaging with people towards it. Both are complementary in his opinion as he believes that “spirituality” is deeply ingrained into why we pursue sustainable development in the first place.
“In spirituality, we find a basis for innate human dignity and all life. It is like an invisible and shared thread that runs through our lifelines. We may not be able to express it with words, but it is there in is. Human dignity is more formally expressed in Human Rights, the SDGs, and all other frameworks we have for sustainable development and the common good.”
What motivates you?
On the level that my conscious mind can understand, I believe poetry motivates me. And by poetry, I mean that quiet beauty when an infant laughs for the very first time, the stubborn hope of small flowers growing through cracks in concrete, or our capacity for empathy and relationship – to feel another’s reality as your own, regardless of race, class, geography, etc. (and even species!).
On the more unconscious level in which words seem to be inadequate in explaining, I listen to the voice inside me that “tells” me what I SHOULD be doing. It comes to me through seemingly random bursts of living insight, and also very vividly in dreams.
What are the lessons learned and the challenges you’ve experienced in advancing your advocacy/ initiatives?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. I’ve learned (and am still learning) the hard way that advancing initiatives in meaningful ways involves a great deal of communicating well. Not everyone will be on board with you from the get-go. Sometimes relationships take a lot of time to build. Learning how to communicate well can take you a long way and open doors.
What are your commitments in response to Laudato Si’ encyclical?
I think the word that best describes my key takeaway is ‘Integral’. We all need to be open and recognize the fact that those at the margins are also real. Just because they are not part of “the average” doesn’t mean they do not exist or that what happens to them does not affect everyone else. They are very real. And oftentimes, like the indigenous communities, they are the ones who hold answers to caring for our common home, and many other problems we face. Our responses must be integral in the sense that we include and do not leave those at the margins behind.
What kind of world do you want to leave to those who will come after us, to children who are growing up?
One in which people can recognize their capacity to choose the good, and their responsibility to do so for themselves, their families, their communities, and future generations.