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Understanding symbolism

Alicia Vasto | Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dear Andrew Lynch,

I am writing in response to your letter “No lights on the Dome” (Mar. 30). For those who don’t know, last Saturday the University joined hundreds of millions of people in 134 countries by turning the lights off for Earth Hour as a symbol of its commitment to sustainability and its stand against climate change. Andrew, I don’t know if you read up on Earth Hour, but I’m assuming you didn’t.

If you did, you would know that lights were turned off on religious symbols around the world, including Duomo di Milano, Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. So by your logic, the Vatican has disrespected the Catholic faith as well. Maybe you should write them a letter.

In actuality, participating in Earth Hour is a very Catholic thing to do. Climate change will disproportionately impact those who have contributed the least to our present energy and environmental crisis, namely the poor (if you want a source for this, look to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). Pope Benedict XVI has observed, “Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family.” The University showed its dedication to Catholic values by showing solidarity with the Church and the world’s poor, and symbolically standing against climate change during Earth Hour. I would like to applaud the University for taking such a stance.

There is one more thought I would like to leave you with. The light bulb wasn’t invented until 1879. Before this, religious symbols and sacred images were put into darkness every night when the sun went down. Does that mean that they weren’t meaningful during those hours? I would say no. In fact, I am rather insulted that you think our faith would be shaken and our traditions lost just because it was dark outside.

Alicia Vasto


off campus

Mar. 30