In light of yesterday's events, both in Iraq and Chicago, I wanted to send the following, which came to me yesterday from a contact I have made through my work in eco-spirituality. It is a piece that attempts to identify the deeper issues involved in the present conflict.
In prayer and haste,
The Great Work: Platform for a Viable Human Presence on the Planet
©Angela Manno 2003 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
We have reached a point in history in which it is no longer sufficient to protest impending wars. War is symptomatic. Even if we manage to prevent the attack on Iraq, another war here and another war elsewhere will pop up, because we won't have gotten to the root cause of what has been tearing at the fabric of the natural world and our society, perhaps since the inception of this nation.
Understanding the root cause of the dysfunctional foreign and domestic policies of this and other administrations is Step 1 of the Great Work of transformation that now must get underway in earnest. We do need to know how we got where we are and to shed light on exactly what has been going on for so many years in our name, for instance, the genocide of the Native Americans; the disruption and thwarting of nascent democratic societies and liberation movements in South America; the training in the techniques of torture at the School of the Americas in Georgia; funding the invasion of countries like East Timor, the Vietnam war, and now, possibly Iraq. The shameless global sale of arms and the commitment to an oil economy despite the pollution and international turmoil it causes. None of these actions can generate a peaceful planetary society, nor will merely protesting them.
I want to quote an author and friend who I believe has identified the real problem with our society. In "Greenspirit: 12 Steps in Ecological Spirituality," author Albert LaChance? states that "western cultures are functioning within the context of addiction" and that unless we own up to the "bankruptcy" of our value system and become willing to be changed by an individual and collective spiritual experience, eventually we will fall prey to the fatal addiction of consumerism which is rapidly destroying the Earth's basic life systems.
In his book, LaChance? goes on to say that "In the same way that an individual addict will resort to mugging in order to protect the vital supply of drug(s), so, too, do we as nations build ever more insane weaponry in order 'to protect our vital interests' globally. What are these 'vital interests?' They are the raw materials of underdeveloped countries. . . . 'Protecting our vital interests' is a polite way of saying that we are willing to 'mug' any country that will not give us a 'fix'."
To use the analogy of 12-step programs, accurate news reporting can be the 4th step in recovery for our nation as a whole; as we open our eyes to what is being done in our name around the world, we are able to make a "searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves" and then begin to make amends.
The Great Work
What is needed is a vision of what we do want as our national agenda, a vision of our purpose and mission as a people and as members of the larger Earth Community.
We need a platform. Peace is not a goal, it's a process, as president Kennedy once said. What, then, is our goal?
Instead of concocting the heinous Patriot Act that will lead to more and more restrictions in the name of security, why not ensure the security of the Earth itself by becoming ourselves a Viable Presence on the Planet? This, to me, is the Great Work, the alchemical process of transformation that is the only viable option at this moment in history.
To quote the late Norman Cousins,
"Humanity is rushing toward a rendezvous with dysfunction and destruction or toward accomplishment of a major shift in attitude, values, perspective and organization....
"Global civilization must come into its own . . . or mankind's magnificent experiment in self-awareness and socialization will abort in titanic catastrophe. A new organism in the process of being born and will be born unless it is destroyed. This is the nature of the human predicament and human opportunity in its ultimate terms....
". . . the future is up to us . . . we can change it and mould it to suit the needs of all life on Earth. Implicit is the call to us each to recognize and to accept our responsibility, and to exert ourselves fully in easing the transition to a humane world order." (from the Introduction of Earth At Omega by Donald Keys)
What, then, would be a platform for a Viable Human Presence on the Planet consist of? Here are some of my thoughts. I would appreciate hearing yours as well. Let's start to shape this vision, so that we are not merely left to the endless and exhausting task of countering every misconceived scheme hatched by those functioning within the Old World Order.
A Platform for a Viable Human Presence on the Earth would include the following goals:
1. Energy and Resource Self-Sufficiency: Dependence on foreign resources makes it necessary to meddle in foreign countries' domestic politics and thus be an enemy to democracy abroad. It makes it necessary to lie to the world and to ourselves. It makes us perpetrators of violence and injustice. It destroys lives and it creates powerful enemies. It requires us to become even more oppressive and it destroys our humanity.
2. Renewable Resources: Dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear, whatever the source- domestic or foreign- is a losing game. Pollution, climate change, deforestation, desertification, birth defects, cancer and floods all are a result of our dependence on these energy sources. Solar, biomass and wind power, on the other hand, is clean and ultimately more affordable, as is harnessing the power of the waves in the ocean.
3. Universal Education and Health Care: Lack of education creates a disempowered and disenfranchised population which can and often leads to emotional illness and criminality. Everyone suffers except the businesses that profit from the prison-industrial complex. Universal Health Care is a human right and needs no justification. In a land of such abundance, not having it is a scandal.
4. Service-Restoring the Land: The scarred landscape from stripmining and timber cutting, the polluted waters--lakes, rivers, bays and the oceans -- must be cleaned up. Efforts must be made to develop a clean way to neutralize nuclear waste. The result will be pure drinking water, renewed fish and game habitats, beauty and health now and for future generations.
5. Peace Academies for the Future -- Those of us alive today at the beginning of the 21st century are laying the ground work for the next thousand years. The children today are the first generation that will either perpetuate business as usual or be on the front lines of a truly new and sustainable world order. "At a time when the government pleads scarcity of funds for health care, education, and the environment, there appear to be unlimited funds for buying allies, for weapons and for deployment of an expensive missile system that has not been proven to even work." (Bishop William Persell of Chicago, Pastoral Letter ). We have spent billions of dollars preparing for war. We educate millions of young people in military academies. Adults today must be the architects of a new and sustainable world order, establishing peace academies throughout the world. Curriculum would include all aspects of this Platform for a Viable Human Presence on the Earth.
6. Restitution and Empowerment of the Native American Population and those we have harmed abroad: We have not only decimated the land but whole cultures. Withdrawing our controlling presence around the world and on Indian reservations will begin to heal those wounds. We need to take the money out of the bloated military which has troops all over the globe and create another Earth Restoration/ Peace Corps to help restore these societies and their land that we have ravaged.
7. Sustainable Agriculture: Ban genetic engineering now. Ban the use of pesticides and petrochemicals now. Introduce a massive program to educate and support farmers to convert to organic agricultural practices. Result: vital healthy food, reversal of water pollution and the loss of topsoil, human health enhancement. Strengthening the food chain. The return of beneficial insects.
8. Universal Addiction Counseling and Rehabilitation: Our country is addicted -- to over eating, over working, to sex, drugs, alcohol, TV, religion, consuming--these are all designed to numb our deep pain, to distract us from what's going on in our name and from becoming active citizens in the democratic process. The result is a wasteful, diseased, unthinking, compulsive society. A voracious, violent and self-destructive society. An uncompassionate society. A universal program educating us about addiction and its ravages -- to the person, the family, the community, the environment and international relations, as part of Peace Education.
9. Nutrition Education: Promoting a healthy diet, including less meat consumption, would result in less heart disease, less waste of resources -- grazing land & water -- and less environmental damage. Cattle effluent pollutes water. Feeding them on grain wastes an enormous amount of water. Grazing destroys valuable and important land such as the rainforest.
10. Promote total municipal recycling, precycling and solid waste management through composting and "living machines". Result: clean water, natural fertilizer.
11. Dismantling the War Machine -- take all that money and put it into enacting the above.
12. Freedom of the Press: free from commercial agendas, which dictate what can and cannot be discussed. This forum that was meant to belong to the people. It must be allowed to speak freely, or we will never be able to access our ills, our strengths and move forward to create beauty and well-being in our nation and on this planet.
''Who in the government, presently, would likely run on such a platform? Comments? Suggestions? Let me hear from you! ''
Patricia M. Bombard, BVM, D.Min. Executive Director Institute for Spiritual Leadership P.O. Box 53147 Chicago, Illinois 60653 http://www.spiritleader.org 773-752-5962, ext. 24