Look at our brokenness.
We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.
We know that we are the ones
Who are divided,
And we are the ones
Who must come back together
To walk the Sacred Way.
Teach us love, compassion, and honor
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.
As an adolescent I spent many hours in the solitude of the forest, loathing my species. We were in the cold war days. Reagan was ratcheting up the anti-communist speak and planning to arm even the space around the earth to protect America. There were days that I prayed these insane world leaders would just do it, end human life on the earth so that this Great Mother could begin to heal herself from our diseased way and with any luck no new self-destructive and planet-destructive species would evolve to replace us. We narrowly escaped Armageddon as the Soviet Union crumbled (and not from the US influence, but from a nonviolent movement within). I decided that if we weren't all to perish just yet I should start working for the health of the planet and her "good children", the animals. I followed and supported the work of Greenpeace and PETA, beginning to hone my public speaking skills with their messages. But as I matured I began to realize that we are not separate from the system. If we hope to heal the earth we must first heal the human family. Thus began my journey into human rights.
I had the privilege of hearing Julia Butterfly Hill speak at a conference a couple years back. For those who don't know Julia, she lived in a 1500 yr old California Redwood tree, affectionately named Luna, for 738 days, from December 10th 1997 to December 18th 1999. She recalls looking out on the forest surrounding Luna watching the clear cutting already in process by the Pacific Lumber Company and coming to the realization that until humans quit clear cutting each other no forest on the planet would ever be safe. I've heard this concept echoed by other teachers, that what is internal conflict for the human is magnified and made manifest in the larger world. In other words, what is most ugly and destructive in our world has come from us. This is the premise of deep ecology, deep because it never ceases to question why and how we got here and then address how do we best begin to repair the damage to both ourselves and the environment. In other words, I have come to view the work of peace, social justice and human rights as an extension of the environmental movement, not apart from it. I believe this holistic approach to the world's dilemma is the only way we will find a sustainable cure.
Examples of this thinking are happening all over the globe and must continue to catch on, especially in the Western culture that is primarily responsible for the damaged world we live in. This past month we saw the rescue of the last dancing bear in India, but not at the expense of the Kalandar community dependent upon the bears for survival. Activists have worked diligently to help the families find sustainable solutions to support themselves. Patrick Satyanarayan gave a brief invited TED talk on the end of this brutal practice. Green energy, green buildings, buying local, growing organic, returning to natural farming practices in tune with the animals and environment are all encouraging signs that many on the globe are understanding this interdependent web of life of which we are part. The ones dragging their feet are the governments, military and corporations who will no longer have a place in this new integrated vision, and they are fighting the propaganda war of their lives to keep us stuck in our narrow destructive ways.
How do we win over these hold-outs, the most wealthy and elite of our world? Clearly this cannot be achieved by violence. We must in the end walk side by side with them as they are our brothers and sisters too. It is through our compassion and fierce hold on truth that we will win, and so will they. We must educate them, help them find a new way of living just as was done for the Kalandar community of India. Those who have accumulated immense material wealth are among the most broken of the human family. They are the impoverished souls that walk this planet with an insatiable appetite. It is our job to help them. We must remind them that they too are part of this web, and as such dependent upon us and the planet. The more we learn to live compassionately, altering our living and purchasing habits, the clearer the message we'll be.
Let's get off of our knees and walk the Sacred Way as one large family; earth, animal and humankind.