Joseph Biden won the presidential election. It is a relief. With him we will have less bad. But, as William McDonough says in his book, “Cradle to Cradle”, less bad is still bad.
We need to change the system. We need to change the way we think, the way we see things.
We are in a culture where we believe that money and stuff will make us happy. While the majority of people in our culture are not happy and research points out that money and stuff don’t make us happy, the belief is deeply embedded.
The ultimate conclusion for a culture oriented around money and stuff was our designation of personhood for corporations. Their basic goal is to make a profit for stakeholders. That is primary. Everything else is secondary. Thus, seeing people as producers and consumers and the Earth as pure resource makes total sense. Corporations are the biggest cause of planetary destruction, and their so-called rights of personhood are the most egregious cause of this.
We need to change the way we think as a culture. Once we get the basic necessities, which does not require much for most people in this culture, it is our relationships with each other and with the Earth that are primary for our survival, but also for our happiness.
We need to change to a gross national happiness scale. This will, among so many other things, require the removal of personhood from corporations. Biden won’t do these things.
In our move toward developing our relationship with other people the notion of community is primary. We are a tribal animal and have a need for relationships with others. Possibly one of the most significant things about the move toward Rights of Community, is that it is bringing people together in communities to resist harm, but is also developing relationships among these people. I would guess that people see this as a real positive in the movement.
In recognizing the rights of nature, we also need to deepen our relationship to the natural world around us. I say deepen because I believe most people already have a relationship on some level. They have a pet animal; they love walking in the woods or swimming. As we deepen this relationship we realize that we are Earth and we need a healthy community around us of fellow creatures, rivers, soil, water, etc. We will realize that we need to recognize their rights to flourish if we are going to live well. As is frequently said, we need a healthy planet for our species to be healthy.
We are in a planetary crisis. The reality is that this system we are in, that commodifies people, lands, water and sky, will not be the one that will save it.
However, this isn’t the only problem. I have heard the term “topophobia” used to explain another issue we are dealing with. People have a fear of that which looks different than they do. It can relate to sex, race, disabilities and the like, but also to the non-human world of which we are a part. The notion is that many people are fearful of what does not look like them. This fear creates the white supremacist, the racist, but also creates the need to own and subjugate the rest of our planet. We need to control what we fear.
Our future depends on a new way of relating to the world around us. We need a new economic and environmental paradigm. We need to reject an extractive economy and build a relationship with the sacredness of Earth rather than try to control it.
We live in a literally deadly serious time. There is a very good chance that continuing the way we are will bring about the extinction of our species.
I in no way see humans as being evil. We are a species of this planet. If we believe humans are evil we therefore believe the Earth is evil because we are Earth. The current culture has had a positive effect on the growth of our species. There are now almost eight billion of our species on the planet. This is a sign of a successful species. The problem is, the current system is very likely going to destroy us. We desperately need to change. Humans have had critical problems to solve in the past and have made needed changes, but they had hundreds and thousands of years to make the change. We don’t have that.
But we are still alive! And there is so much beauty that surrounds us. We live in an amazing world. We are so blessed to be alive at this time when we understand so much about the Universe and the planet we live in. We have access to so much of this beauty. We can truly stand in awe at what we witness around us. When we forget this, or are totally unaware, we don’t know what it is to be fully alive. When we started Imago in 1978, we were aware that most people in our culture aren’t happy. This is primarily due to this lack of awareness, this lack of awe.
I can’t imagine being alive at a more thrilling and challenging time. We are called to be creative, imaginative, to work diligently to move toward a culture that is truly in love with the rest of the planet.
With all of this effort we can also stop and be still. With this we can take time to listen to our fellow Earthlings and hear their response. We can be in love with them and be nourished in this love.
Will our species survive? That is a question I can’t answer. But I can be truly alive at this time surrounded by all that makes up this planet as well as the Universe that encompasses it. While I do stand in fear for the future, I plan to continue to be in awe and work diligently to help our species reconnect and continue to hope for the best. I truly hope our species, my children and grandchildren, not only survive, but have a chance to live truly vibrant lives. It is possible.