Browsing Daily News

Editorial: Paying attention to the ‘throwaway culture’

Pope Francis often has lively turns of phrase, and one of the more memorable expressions of his papacy — and one with real staying power — is what he calls the “throwaway society.” 

The idea is that so often in the modern world we are tempted to treat people as we treat so many things — as disposable the instant they become difficult or inconvenient or simply no longer wanted. Our society can treat people like it treats an empty pop bottle tossed in a recycling bin. 

As we look at the major issues of the day, that lens of the “throwaway culture” makes a lot of sense and brings real explanatory power while also pointing to solutions. The roiling, ongoing debate over abortion is all about it, both in terms of unborn children and their mothers who may be tossed aside because of difficulty. The answer, of course, is to love them both. 

It’s hard to imagine the throwaway culture doesn’t also play in to the horrific gun violence that keeps occurring across the country. Isn’t there a sense of a throwaway society when we look with sadness at the victims but are unwilling to act? And aren’t many of the perpetrators of this violence people who were already thrown away? 

The list could go on and on: Drug abuse, suicide, homelessness, poverty, and more. 

Even to identify this is a place to start. Solving the “throwaway society” is not the work of grand gestures or vast programs so much as it is individual relationships and having eyes to see those who have been cast aside because they’re difficult or inconvenient or undesirable. 

We look, instead, with the eyes of Jesus Christ, who loves and cares for each and every person he has made. When we do that, we can forge the connections and become the means through which he loves those who are in danger of being thrown away.