Investing in the Future
No one lighting a lamp puts it under a basket, but on a lampstand and
it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine
before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory
to your Father in heaven.—The Bible (Matthew 5:15–16)
More than one in six of the world’s population are Catholics.
At the height of the Great Terror in 1935, the French foreign minister suggested that Josef Stalin should take Catholicism seriously. The Soviet leader derisively replied: “The pope? How many divisions has he got?”1 The answer, of course, was none—popes no longer have armies. Yet ironically a few decades later it would be a pope—John Paul Π—who helped bring down the empire that Stalin built so ferociously. Furthermore, while the pope may not have an army in the conventional way he is head of the largest single voluntary organization in the world: the Catholic Church, with more than 1 billion followers worldwide and an influence to match.
This chapter shows how, in the struggles to create a better world, the potential “divisions” or “battalions” of the faiths have been largely ignored—or perhaps they have been invisible, even sometimes to themselves. It also argues that one religion or NGO or even the biggest bank in the world can have only a limited impact on its own—and that if we are really going to help support biodiversity, humans need to recognize, live with, and ultimately make use of our diversity in beliefs, experiences, and resources. This is acknowledged in the Millennium
1. Quoted in Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm, vol. 1 of The Second World War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), chap. 8.