Be

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In Hindi, the words Vasudhaiva Kutumbam mean “Earth Family,” the democracy of all life.

(Quoted from Vandana Shiva’s Restoring the Earth in David Suzuki’s 1997 book, The Sacred Balance.) I thought of using Earth Family as a title for the poem, but reduced it to “Be.” For more on Vandana Shiva see the end of this post.

How to live? How to be?

I wrote lines one and three of the above haiku on a plane, after making notes on Suzuki’s book. The sky just before sunset on October 18th was spectacular looking West in the late afternoon from the Caribbean Airlines plane bringing us back from a family funeral.

By flying return to Trinidad, about 4055 km (2535 miles) one way, the two of us together “caused” about  5 tonnes of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere. 2.5 tonnes each. That’s enough CO2 to grow about 23, 500 tonnes of potatoes – if that helps you understand the impact that modern travel has on global warming and highlight the difficult ethical choices which, if not faced right now, will produce  much global suffering in the not too distant future. It will take some fortunate gardener working for a long while to turn that amount of gas into potatoes. These CO2 numbers are based on information from www.deliveringdata.com.

Something about turning 70 today makes me reflect more intensely on big issues.Thinking about the world I’m leaving for my grandchildren – not that I’m planning to resign anytime soon…

As promised, I have done more thinking about Décroissance. It is definitely going to be a while as I grow in awareness and commitment. But here goes:

Continue reading “Be”

One Planet

Planet Earth Photo, courtesy of Wikipedia
Planet Earth Photo, courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1983 I wrote One Planet. It was during the height of the Cold War and addressed the immediate and long term risks that the extremely profitable arms race was creating for Planet Earth and, by extention, Homo sapiens.

Now the risks are multifaceted and include many other threats, such as for example, the chemical and mechanical ruination of our environment for extremely short-sighted corporate goals. The arms race continues apace and the wars of scarcity have begun. Agribusiness and the extraction of fossil fuels and minerals have caused pollution and population displacement to an unprecedented degree.

There are far fewer toe holds available for those of us who continue to grapple for hope, but there is no choice but to “keep the faith.”

One Planet will also be up on the My Songs page.

Idle No More = Hope Some More

I have been ignorant of so much about our native peoples for so long – like my whole life, for example. The author Wade Davis years ago made me appreciate the value of seeing Mother Earth from a worldwide indigenous perspective which recognizes the oneness of every single thing on this Planet, a point made superbly by Winona LaDuke in this wonderful talk.

The recent Idle No More movement highlights for me these points:

1. We continue to colonize our native peoples through, among other things, ruining their unceded lands and waters by making them hostile, barren and toxic via the unbridled extraction of minerals, oil and trees.

2. Our First Nations are experiencing huge rates of disease due to these activities. The pollution is also affecting us, though less obviously. Ninety-nine per cent of scientists and a large, growing number of lay people realize that continued economic growth that depends on pollution is unsustainable.

3. Many of us “white folk” are coming to realize that multinational corporations, many with foreign profit centres like Brazil, China and Holland, with absolutely no connection to the land, are being given the right to exploit it. While First Nations are the canary in the coal mine, we all are being quickly colonized, and, ultimately, impoverished and poisoned by the world economic system.

4. The Movement is a valuable, attention-grabbing focal point whose many contentious, non-unanimous issues, some of which are highlighted in Michael Enright’s CBC Sunday Edition interview with Cindy Blackstock, can be unified, I believe, by the unanimous chant that “Enough Is Enough.”

I see this phenomenon as a reason to hope again. For a glass-half-empty person, that is some accomplishment.