Earth week coincides with many challenging issues. We could discuss nonrenewable versus renewable resources, clean energy, acidification of our oceans, plastic, ongoing extinction of species, climate change or the final destruction of rainforests equaling 20 percent of our oxygen. We could also discuss topics such as water pollution versus water rights, land pollution versus land rights, organic farming versus genetically modified agriculture, or the pesticide, hormone and antibiotic-laden, factory-farmed food industry. We could even discuss the conventional medical industry versus green, sustainable medicine, socially responsible business versus conventional capitalism, or lack of government oversight of toxic chemicals and global earth rights being taken away by corporate rule. There is a myriad of serious and pertinent issues that challenge our planet today.
Nonetheless, I have chosen this Earth week to talk about community and our responsibility to each other as human beings. I believe that this is the foundation for a healthy world in all of the areas mentioned previously, ad infinitum.
First of all, nothing changes if nothing changes. I have noticed continued unrelenting attacks in politics, even though we now have a precious opportunity to move forward. This internal anger that we harbor affects everything. Do you see the similarities between harmful political slander, verbal abuse and finger pointing and two Pakistani boys both telling a reporter that he would kill his friend if he acted differently from his own political and religious views once he can join his chosen army?
If we as human beings choose not to honor our brothers and sisters and their differing viewpoints, as well as different religious or spiritual views, then we all lose. Facts are facts and feelings are just feelings. We can all have opinions, but do we need to continuously beat each other over the head with them? How will we ever get out of the financial and environmental mire we have created if we do not learn to work together instead of acting like preschool children during a tantrum? It is said that no matter what appears wrong, we each play a part. If we are disturbed about something or someone, then something is wrong with us, too. What is our part? Do we wallow in the problem or become part of the solution in moving forward toward a healthier planet?
It is terrible that many are suffering from human mistakes. However, it appears that more are concerned with currency rather than literally whether or not we have a planet to continue living on in the next century. Old-school economics leads us to believe that the government will take care of us as long as we continue to work hard and support the ongoing growth of Walmart where needless things are more affordable. Our “empire” economy supports such corporations which, in turn, only perpetuates a spiral of problems. These giant corporations profit from our losses. Thus, a downward cycle continues while we continue suffocating our earth with more plastic from China.
The bottom line is that everything points back toward “cooperative communities” and a simpler lifestyle. Live simply so that others may simply live. In David Korten’s book, “The Great Turning – From Empire to Earth Community,” Korten states, “Empire is not the natural order of things. A life-centered, egalitarian, sustainable society based on democratic principles of partnership is possible. We have choices. Life can be hostile and competitive or life can be supportive and cooperative. Humans can be flawed and dangerous or we can have many possibilities. We can be ordered by a dominator hierarchy or we can have order through partnership. We can compete or die or we can cooperate and live. We can love power or we can love all life. We can defend self or we can defend the rights of all. We can be masculine dominant or we can become gender-balanced.
Destructive competition suppresses creative potential and promotes grossly inefficient use of resources. Empire feeds on its own illusions of power, order and security, while becoming a collective addiction of psychological dependence on domination, violence and material excess. It is evident that such behaviors are irrational, morally wrong and destructive of all life on earth.
Earth Communities can give expression to the democratic drive for partnership – to create, share and nurture. They can organize through consensual decision making, mutual accountability, and individual responsibility, while cultivating trust, caring, competence and an equitable distribution of power and resources. This is more fulfilling, more efficient, and ultimately more human. Embracing Cooperative Community with an Earth First focus, allows for a massive reallocation of available human surplus away from maintaining hierarchies of domination to the work of improving the lives of all – not just a few.”
Human selfishness for control and power, as well as an endless desire for convenience and material success, has created the fork in the road where we currently stand. If we stop, reflect honestly and take the road less-traveled, we can heal, have inner peace and healthy perspectives toward a better tomorrow. Saving the planet is the only clear issue and all other relations and challenges must encompass this. However, we cannot save the planet if we cannot first save ourselves. In any relationship there are compromises, but first there must be honor and respect. You cannot have one without the other and you cannot honor and respect another until you first honor and respect yourself.
Vesta Elliot is a Homer business owner of Organic Hair Design, which uses earth-friendly techniques and products
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