April 16, 2011

The Law of Mother Earth: a Shift is happening?

The emerging Global South is asserting its wisdom, first in Ecuador now in Bolivia.

Giving Nature equal rights with humans is the emerging trend that could awaken all of us to move beyond the fear and greed that damages the Earth and drives the economies of Nations. Step aside Adam Smith, move over John Locke – you’re both dead and gone! Take notice corporate accountants, NO MORE EXTERNALITIES on the balance sheet!  It’s time our modern world of 8 billion humans bury old economic models in the rich and fertile Earth while some wildness remains to protect!  In the spirit of Pachamama (the cherished goddess of the indigenous peoples of the Andes) the ground we once knew, the way of life we thought we could control is rapidly changing. Political and community leaders in South America are changing the laws governing their homelands. This is the beginning of the transformation many have predicted.

Modern view of the Goddess Pachamama

At a minimum, it’s time to revisit old economic theory, through the clear lens of our natural world and consider what’s at stake.  If corporations have equal, if not superior, rights to humans, isn’t it time to officially sanction the rights of Nature and reverse the Supreme Court ruling giving Corporations more “personhood rights”? Some say we’ll never turn back the clock on that ruling that considers corporations “people” providing a pathway for unlimited funding of political campaigns with no way for citizens ( true human beings ) to track where the money is coming from.

John Locke

Sorry John, the well being of our Earth requires protection from free wheeling corporate raiders ( O.K. not all corporations are corrupt – after all they are simply maximizing profit, which is their fiduciary responsibility). It’s the system and the way that our monetary policies affect behavior that needs further analysis. Who would intentionally trash the well being of the whole for the sake of private gain? To answer my own question, only individuals working within a system that rewards that kind of behavior. The illusion of a “free market” is also ripe for review! Even the notion of private property and the so called “right” to abuse what we “own” is due for deeper analysis. It may well be naive to expect any of these deeply imbedded behaviors, beliefs and ideologies to shift in the least little bit. Inflammatory rhetoric will not contribute to moving us forward, as appealing as that confrontational posturing is to certain advocates of change. We need to design a whole new system with no enemies. A complimentary model would be a powerful contribution to shift behaviors. Time to move beyond us vs. them.

Thanks to the indigenous wisdom of Bolivian President Evo Morales, the Law of Mother Earth is about to become the guiding principle of his nation. Honoring the sacredness of Pachamama is to become the core value of his homeland. As an Awakening the Dreamer facilitator for the Pachamama Alliance, and a member of the “Holy Shifters” training group, I’m personally delighted to witness this changing consciousness! I have heard reports from friends living in Bolivia that much work remains and President Morales’ press releases are too often stretching the truth of his actual behavior and policies. So, it is up to the world community and his own citizens to demand integrity and the full implementation of these new laws. Without enforcement and rigorous oversight they are only words on paper.

The President of Bolivia - Evo Morales

The beauty of Bolivia and our entire Earth is certainly worth protecting by law, after all is said and done, laws are human constructs, ultimately intended to protect the best interests of the community, right? Since we created the laws, we have the ability to change them.

Cataratas National Park

Bolivia is on the verge of passing constitutional legislation that would set Adam Smith on his head – perhaps long enough to encourage all of us to re-interpret his Wealth of Nations and take a deeper look at The Theory of Moral Sentiments, another of his “great” works, conveniently  overlooked by modern-day- Free-Market-advocates and Tea Party activists who appear to be motivated exclusively by self interest. Yup, that self interest thing isn’t going to go away any time soon. The narrow view of the triumphant individual is in direct opposition to an ethical honoring of the well being of the entire community . Nonetheless, we certainly revere captains of industry. The ones we really honor are those who do well while also doing “good”. Now that’s a model we ought to emphasize and celebrate.  Here is an excerpt from Adam Smith’s writing on “acts of benevolence”:

“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it. . . .”

Adam Smith’s View of Man; The Journal of Law and Economics Vol. 19(3), October 1976.

Adam Smith, lifelong bachelor

Could Adam Smith have been a Buddhist, with notions of socialism?  Although I was fortunate to study with John Kenneth Galbraith and carefully read his New Industrial State when it was fresh off the press, I can’t claim to be an expert interpreter of the “dead economists society”.  Nonetheless, here is another passage for your consideration from Adam Smith that precedes his discussion of self-interest and his assertion we cannot depend upon the benevolence of others:

“In civilized society, [man] stands at all times in need of the co-operation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons.”

Of course, to fully appreciate a new interpretation of Adam Smith, one must embrace the value of “exchanging self with other”.  A practice not often embraced by economists. Imagine our world if this profound practice was embodied by the majority of humans now alive. Here is how one Buddhist text put it:

Since cherishing myself is the door to all faults
And cherishing other beings is the foundation of all good qualities,
I seek your blessings to take as my essential practice
The yoga of exchanging self with others.

Be inspired:


Bringing fresh eyes and an ecological interpretation to the classic economic texts is overdue. These texts attempt to tell us “how it is” and “what is so” in the affairs of humans and commercial enterprise. They are touted by ideologues as if they carry the weight of sacred teachings. Isn’t it time to question their assumptions?  Given that everything in Nature is constantly changing, let’s change our thinking about the role of money in our lives and re-evaluate the power we give to economic institutions. This trend of giving equal rights to Nature may very well lead to a new organic theory of economics. Easier said than done? So what, does that mean we shouldn’t make a valiant attempt?

Keep an eye out for New Money for a New World authored by Bernard Lietaer and Stefan Belgin – they are on the right path to help us appreciate the importance of a complete reevaluation of the impact of money on all of our communities and how the monetary system impacts everything we do in our lives.  The world economies have it all back to front in my view. The industrial growth society is in overshoot and we know it. It is past time to place ecological health far above economic expediency on the proverbial pyramid of human priorities.

Onward with Courage

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