Is the American lifestyle of today the proper model for a sustainable future?

On May 24 the Vatican published Laudato Si, an encyclical letter written by Pope Francis that talks about human beings’ relationship to the planet. In Laudata Si, he recognizes the human factor behind climate change, laments the fast-track extermination of species, and the similar annihilation of human cultures.

“(t)he disappearance of a culture can be just as serious, or even more serious, than the disappearance of a species of plant or animal. The imposition of dominant lifestyle . . . can be just as harmful as the altering of ecosystems.”

The Pope defends indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. He insists these peoples participate as principal partners in a dialogue concerning the protection of their lands from multinational corporations in search of natural resources. 

Use your historical knowledge of America’s regard for primitive human cultures, in particular the Philippine Exhibition at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, to respond to the following two prompts.

1. What really lay behind the conviction that the “White Man” had to bear the burden of “civilizing the lesser races”?

2. Is the American lifestyle of today the proper model for a sustainable future?  Explain in detail.

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