Hope?

Do I think that there is hope for a sustainable future for our country? For our planet?

In short, yes I do.

But obviously, changes have to be made. Enormous changes. Most people report a high valuation of the environment and a concern about the effects of global warming, and claim that they would like to be able to change their ways in order to work towards sustainability for our planet. They report these values, but do not reflect them in their actions. This is known as the environmental values – behavior gap. In order to fill this gap, major paradigm shifts have to take place. The way we value high income, the way we define ourselves as consumers, the way we live out the fundamentals of our every day life. All of these things have to change.

My faith comes from my understanding of the malleability of the human mind. I remember when I first learned about the holocaust in my grade seven social studies class. I was profoundly shocked and disturbed when I went home and talked to my parents about it that night, after having been shown a video of the massacre at school. I was dumbfounded. How could that have happened? Less than 70 years ago? How on Earth was an entire country convinced that the destruction of an entire race was not only acceptable, but compulsory.

Enormous, widespread paradigm shifts are possible. For the better, and for the worse.

I use the same reasoning when justifying my reasons for choosing vegetarianism. I always get challenged with remarks about humans being top carnivores and therefore having the evolutionary right to eat meat.

I love my dogs like family members. They feel. They love. They get scared.

Pigs are just as intelligent, if not more intelligent, than dogs.

Just because we were brought up in an environment where we learned that killing animals for food is okay… doesn’t mean it’s actually okay. But it’s the norm, and most people are fine with that. Once again, the malleability of the human mind allows it to adapt to diverse ways of thinking.

In my opinion, the two most important factors that will cause the paradigm shifts we need in order to achieve a sustainable future include:

Influential figures and figures of power

And

Media. In all of its forms.

We have the science to back up the detrimental effects of climate change, but it is not widely recognized because it is not widely backed by figures of influence. The headway that we have been gaining has been majorly due to the influence of media. After all, Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”, is credited with bringing the issue of climate change on to the international agenda.

So get out there! Make a documentary!

In the meantime… read this!

“In 1851 Seattle, chief of the Suquamish and other Indian tribes around Washington’s Puget Sound, delivered what is considered to be one of the most beautiful and profound environmental statements ever made. The city of Seattle is named for the chief, whose speech was in response to a proposed treaty under which the Indians were persuaded to sell two million acres of land for $150,000.”
— Buckminster Fuller in Critical Path.

Chief Seattle’s Thoughts:

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.

If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man — all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children.

So, we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us. This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you the land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.

The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.

We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’s grave behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care. His father’s grave, and his children’s birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.

I do not know. Our ways are different than your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring or the rustle of the insect’s wings. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around the pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with pinon pine.

The air is precious to the red man for all things share the same breath, the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.

The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers.

So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition – the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.

I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children that we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know which the white man may one day discover; our God is the same God.

You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.

That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.

Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.

The end of living and the beginning of survival.

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