“A sacred choice is one that does not seek to compensate for a wound, but to heal it.”
~ Rick Vassalla
Have you read the mainstream media reports lately? Wow. Lately I have read too many editorials describing the choice between a nuclear or more sustainable future as hinging on the monetary cost to multinational companies, government, and taxpayers. Does it also make you squirm in your skin to hear our world fixated on economic gain at any cost, with the real possibility of environmental collapse as well as species and human extinction from toxic waste streams given secondary concern? Do you care more about remaining “competitive” in the international marketplace above the survival and health of your children and family?
I have reached my limit of political puppet talk to distract attention from and justify the destruction of life on Earth. I could give a crap about the International Marketplace, whatever it is. Come to think of it, I think we should downsize the mythic International marketplace by 90% (I’d still like to have curry powder to cook with) and replace it with hundreds of regional festivals where we all camp out and envision a new, locally-based future. Camp Headquarters is biking distance from our homes.
We need a new paradigm for living and doing business on Earth, not just an adjustment of the current system. We need a modus operandi that is eco-centric not solely human-centric. This orientation forms the crux of Deep Ecology, which perceives nature as sacred, not primarily a commodity for human progress and development. By granting Nature a right to live and thrive, we grant the same to humanity. We can no longer pretend as though nature is forever indispensable and able to re-grow itself no matter the pace at which we use it up. Or that some fantastic messianic miracle of technology is going to save us and regenerate what we have denigrated. Even if there were such a technology, what kind of world would remain in the balance?
While green goods and technologies are a step towards a solution, it’s no longer enough simply to re-package a small percentage of our rampant consumerism model as “green.” We need pervasive sustainability, extending to the greening of our hearts, so that actual care emerges for our world, as opposed to image-manipulation for the sake of disguising our same exploitation of nature.
While on hikes and otherwise quietly enjoying nature, I often come across other visitors to the forest (more accurately, they usually happen upon me sitting in a strange way and place) that act as though they have just walked into a Disneyland, but with the mute button on. So seemingly foreign to them is an experience of nature’s silence and awe.
So, treat yourself to some time out of the city. Immerse yourself in and soak up nature to remember not only what sustains us physically, emotionally, and spiritually but what deserves a good life for its own sake.
Sit under the tree in your yard or patio with your children, if you have any, for an hour or overnight, but don’t discuss the International Marketplace! Feel yourself and your children in relation to the current course of humanity. Think and feel into your life’s purpose and your family’s and what matters most to your enduring joy and integrity and perhaps even from a perspective at the end of your life. This is not a morbid suggestion but a sobering, life-enhancing perspective to grasp what really maters for today, tomorrow and hopefully, “our future.”
Promising parts to a new vision for ecological sustainability are already afoot. India, Bolivia, Ecuador and districts in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout New England have enacted Earth-centered constitution declaring, for example, the inalienable rights of “natural communities and ecosystems,” to possess the same rights to survival and “living well” as humans. You can read more about this in the newly released book, The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.
Unfortunately, it is still legal to “make money” (especially gobs of it) without being truly accountable for the negative side-effects of production. When windfall monetary gain and supernatural power for their own sake are the primary motivation for work, care is both diminished and devalued. Sacrificing profits is avoided at all costs to the point that doing business becomes fanatical, unrelinquishable, and manically pursued with religious zeal. This is driven by the dictatorship of the linear, left brained, conquer and dominate mentality. Extending this plummeting and primarily profits-based mentality to considering our planet’s current and future energy choices underlies our current ecological, economic and health crises.
In contrast, an Eco-centric paradigm favors economic choices based on what might allow humanity to survive with a standard of living worth being alive for: clean air, water, food, good health, happy and healthy children in birthright possession of their full mental capacities and with the proper number of limbs all in tact. Please add to this birthright a still wild, fertile, and a highly diversified ecosystem which nurtures us on every level. Making extraordinary amounts of money through heartless work is innocuous enough if it did not negatively impact the rest of the world. But this is not the norm, and by definition, likely impossible.
Excessive greed to the degree of pervasive violence to the rest of life, along with its attendant lack of soul, are at the root of planetary collapse. Intense greed is a misplaced spirituality, the acting out of an impoverished and vacuous inner life. When we use greed and monetary success for their own sake to accumulate resources and symbols of power rather than becoming powerful and resourceful through a rich inner life, sustainable progress is crippled. Inner resourcefulness allows us to deeply enjoy, be filled by, and want to protect the simple beauties of life. We may find ourselves not needing, nor even wanting, external complexities that impede our direct experience of beauty and genuine fulfillment. We discover that we actually have to fight off what others bust their asses to try to attain: needless stuff.
The myriad forms of greed and hoarding are attempts to satiate the longing for true power—the power of love, the abundance and enjoyment of natural beauty, and the peace of mind that comes from inner security. Inner security is that rooted in self-knowledge and the confidence and courage to honestly face and be transformed into a better person through life’s challenges, including the relentless impositions of National Security!
At the other end of the eco-social spectrum we have the New Age movement whose idea of creating “abundance” is fine when pursued for basic life necessities and perhaps a few luxuries. But when pursued beyond what is needed to lead a reasonably comfortable, sustainable and soulful life, the quest for “abundance” is but a euphemism, a disguise for the same perversion of power and consumerism that is undermining our commonwealth, our souls, our unhampered joy, and planetary integrity.
To a great extent, each of us can choose what we consume, depending on the resources available to us. Certain “necessities” for coping and positively contributing to life are primarily provided by corporate monoliths (cars and computers, for example). Nonetheless, making self-empowering and nature-sustaining choices when we can is the obligation of every reasonable person who values life. And if you are not yet in possession of reason, I heard it’s on sale this week at Walmart. So, please be reasonable and don’t go buy it. Voila, you are living with more than reason than just a moment ago! Alas, in these critical times we need healers not product-pushers in politics and policy, business and its media.
The talking heads of Big Business justify their mania and lack of soul by appealing to the very fear they create. Advertising driven by larger-than-life transnationals such as Coca-Cola, Monsanto, McDonalds, Toshiba, and Mitsubishi does the evil work of stimulating people’s addictions, weaker selves, and unhealthy cravings. Then they feed this bottomless pit (bottomless because the filler is insubstantial and unable to truly satiate) of craving for their own profit.
Rather than promote healing, sustainability, and self-empowerment in a mutually interdependent package, Big Business promotes unchecked capitalism by promoting and glorifying this external system of insatiable desire through the cycle of acquiring more and more, the buying and too prompt burying of their cheap toys and gadgets, affording them windfall profits while ordinary folks become more inwardly and outwardly impoverished. The more they hook us on the allure of their stuff, the more we are driven to buy and the more (truly and illusorily) powerful they become. This cycle results in loss of happiness, wholeness, wisdom, connection to grace in our bodies, as well as an ongoing financial struggle to make ends meet under the burden of constant debt and compounded interest. Allowing ourselves to be bought out as consumerism prostitutes leads to depression, helplessness, soul loss, ill health, and every other symptom of self-avoidance. So, don’t go there!
Imagine if the media and advertising sectors of Fortune 1000 transnationals were annually reviewed for their moral and ecological integrity and were required to dedicate a portion of their multi-million dollar advertising budgets to encouraging empowerment and sanity rather than continually manipulating people and promoting the deification of people’s base desires.
If it is your job, or anyone’s you know, to get people hooked on degrading computer games, GMO-tainted Frankenfoods, Monsanto corn, or to engineer fabricated needs for Round-up and other herbicides and pesticides, please dig down to feel your impact on the world and make a change. Tell people the truth and encourage them to listen their own truth. By doing so, you can contribute greatly to global health.
Even if we lived in a purely egalitarian society with no class system and no capitalistic stimulus, good work is critical for the integrity of body, mind, and spirit. When work and jobs become more and more removed from the immediate necessities of everyday life—existing in the abstract cycle of money, power, and the ability to possess rather than to nourish and satisfy our basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, art, love, and inspiration—life becomes more unnecessarily burdensome and less and less meaningful and soul-sustaining.
Too soon we find ourselves far removed from the original blessings of work, living instead a fight or flight, addictive, and ankle chained diminishment into which work and “livelihood” have been inserted. We become removed from the exhilarating experience of good, hard work, the simple joy of living on the beautiful Earth, and the direct and easy realization that the quality of our lives is commensurate to the health of the Earth. When we recognize and exercise this truth, we become stronger and healthier, less dependent and less interested in purchasing the junk that Big Business and mainstream media provide.
Apart from circumstances over which we have no control, we are not victims. A lesson we can learn from the greed that is spoiling the planet is to check our own desires for greed and tend to the underlying deficiencies that even the desire or perceived possibility to become greedy signals. We must question and passionately search for true sustenance, soulful succor that overcomes and eventually diminishes the seduction, addiction, and distraction of opulence and other forms of disenchanted pursuits at the expense of life. These pursuits include a desire for excess possessions, fame for ego, meaningless work, excessive sex or other short-lived and heart-lacking “pleasures” for their own sake. It is time as it has never been before to dip deep into ourselves to re-imagine our place in the web of life. It is high time to channel our energies and attention to the divinity of our bodies’ wisdom and to the effulgence of nature.
It is time to reclaim our lives by taking back our physiologies, our minds, and our hearts through good thinking, creativity, meaningful work, community, more leisure time, and holistic living. We need to spend more time in nature, any way we can. We can learn to reprogram ourselves under the tutelage of Nature herself. Nature influences us at both obvious and deep unconscious levels. Longer sojourns in Nature are recommended so that its subtle yet powerful effects can reach and heal us beneath the mental, physiological, emotional, and lifestyle conditionings that can take time to loosen their hold on us.
We may choose at some point to live rurally. Even if we don’t know how to, cannot imagine, or feel repelled, embarrassed, or guilty by doing so, by moving into such a life, we place ourselves in position to discover inner fulfillment. Here we also can remember how to perceive and live life poetically. Natural metaphors (including poems themselves) unite seemingly disparate aspects of life, thereby unveiling wholeness and catalyzing healing. For instance, the satisfaction and wisdom gained from growing food—from planting a seed to eating its fruit—is also an exciting and ineffable experience. The nature-saturated among us, who have also, for example, witnessed and helped along the miracle of food grown from seed, are and will increasingly become crucial medicine for planetary healing.
I’m to the point that I could give a flying-duck about my current job, your job, or anyone’s job. I feel that each of us needs to expand (or altogether change) the scope of our current work to include and promote the appreciation and preservation of nature. The scope and interests of my “normal” job are being redefined these days. Every week “my job” is becoming more and more “our work”. Our work is to create a grassroots revolution through revelation and the resuscitation of genuine care for each other and Nature. Let us work to slow down and jump off the distraction train we have been collectively riding. Let us exit mindless busyness by cutting out draining and meaningless activities and anything not part of the solution.
Thank goodness I also read and personally experience examples of this movement already beginning to make a mark in the world. In the face of increasing panic and ever-more-accessible escapes into distraction and denial, we have to continue to free up time, energy, creativity, courage, and resources for new Earth-first standards of “success.” Let us define success as when nature succeeds with us.
It is time to rekindle the latent power of our deep body-centered imaginations to birth a new way of caring, consuming, and doing business. This might look a lot like a previous, more dignified, Earth-centered humanity devoted to the common goal of living and leaving a clean legacy for our children. This is our job today. To counterbalance know-nothing officials, our planet needs us, who care. To what extent we can save ourselves in the face of the maniacal powers currently running the show is yet to be seen.
Exploring how to design and implement a more sane and conscious transition to the future, rather than endure a gnarly and disfiguring eco-cidal journey, is our heart-mission for modern times. Indeed, the solution is not as linear or as straightforward as we have come to believe is the way of progress. Rather, it is a cyclical, creatively primal, transformative way that feels and checks its way step by step, adjusting and integrating external reality, intuition, and innovation to create a world in which we can survive and thrive. May Mother Nature be patient for us and may we not procrastinate.