The Dangers of an Egocentric America.
Is anyone else tired of “bombs bursting in air”? I’ve struggled for years getting into the mood to blow up fire crackers and wave the Star Spangled Banner on the fourth of July. Don’t get me wrong, my love for justice, liberty and the ideals of America run deep. Let’s just say the “America: Love it or Leave it” bumper stickers from the 60’s did a number on my psyche. I believe the same fears, doubts and worries that generated the divisive politics of the Nixon/Agnew era inspire the current crop of back-end adornments for gas guzzlers like this one:
I’m not certain how, but fortunately, as a young, pro-peace activist, I came to an awareness that the mentality perpetuating nation-state superiority and global domination were outdated concepts. If only our anti-war movement had thought of “Power to the Peaceful” back then.
Last night, I was delighted that mother nature took center stage with a spectacular display of natural fireworks! It was a relief for the wildlife and our already overly polluted air to take a break from another display of “we’re the greatest.” Sure, it’s appropriate to celebrate the bloody birth of our nation, but isn’t there a better way to do it? I was delighted to rejoice with each natural lightening bolt as an appropriate exclamation point that we don’t need to waste any more precious resources—by the way, good for Louisville, Colorado to cancel their display in advance of our exciting thunderstorm, and so what if it was an austerity measure, maybe their conservative action will set a trend.
Interconnectedness and interdependence are the most basic, most fundamental principles of ecology and ultimately all wisdom traditions.
So, here I am, several days after our national holiday focused upon the movement for interdependence.
Perhaps the earliest declaration of interdependence was offered by Will Durant at this gala gathering in 1945. While his interest at the time was primarily centered on racial justice and an end to the separation of blacks and whites, his 11 volume “Story of Civilization” provided the inspiration and greater perspective to apply the concept to the geo-political domain. Even though Durant’s declaration was entered in the Congressional record in 1949, it took another 30 years before Henry Steele Commager’s Declaration of Interdependence focused on transcending the tyranny of nationalism. He was intent upon raising the awareness of national leaders to move beyond their insistence upon separateness. This document was published in 1975 by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. It represented an urgent call to notice the threat of extinction confronting human kind.
Here we are, another 30 years later poised to perpetuate the status quo or to move forward with guiding principles articulated in the Earth Charter and other inspirational documents, including Agenda 21, designed to establish nature-centered core values that honor diversity and inclusiveness, while still honoring our cherished values of freedom and liberty. The Earth Charter was unveiled during the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. I was fortunate to sign this document in the midst of a media circus surrounding Ted Turner and Jane Fonda. As a participant in the conference, I was minding my own business and walking down the expansive semi-outdoor corridors of Rio Centro, when a large group of delegates came walking toward me. Ted Turner was leading the pack and Al Gore and Tim Wirth, the Director of the United Nations Foundation and a Former Senator from Colorado were right behind Ted and Jane. I got swept up in the crowd and found myself next to Al and Tim, fortunately I had met them both during Al Gore’s book tour for Earth in the Balance – Ecology and the Human Spirit. They had been to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies a summer or two before and gave a compelling and prophetic presentation about the probability of disruptive climate change. As we arrived at the photo enlarged replica of the actual Earth Charter, the next thing I knew, Ted Turner was handing me the magic marker he had just used to sign the permanent white board and there I was, Forest Gump II, signing the charter and then turned and handed the pen to Al Gore. My ten seconds of fame in Brazil!
Isn’t it time to fly an Earth Flag of your choice and get past our rah, rah fascination with blowing up fireworks while declaring ourselves the single greatest nation on Earth? Can the Eagle fly with the dove?
Let’s not wait another 30 years! Onward with courage.