Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.  But of course every day is earth day.  

Here is something to contemplate.

Activist and author Naomi Klein tells a story about the time she travelled to Australia at the request of Aboriginal elders. They wanted her to know about their struggle to prevent white people from dumping radioactive wastes on their land.

Her hosts brought her to their beloved wilderness, where they camped under the stars. They showed her "secret sources of fresh water, plants used for bush medicines, hidden eucalyptus-lined rivers where the kangaroos come to drink." 

After three days, Klein grew restless. When were they going to get down to business?

"Before you can fight," she was told, "you have to know what you are fighting for."

I retold this story to a company recently as part of a pitch for working with sustainability managers.  Suffice to say, it wasn’t appreciated.  “As a person I get it, but it is not appropriate in this context” we were told.

Nature is worth saving for its own sake.  If we as humans want to co-exist, we need to realise our connectivity with it.  We can so easily disconnect ourselves, particularly if we are sitting in an office feeling far removed.   It can bypass us that everything around us is born from the earth, that everything we do has an effect.  To ponder on the raw materials and production processes, that made this city, this chair, this cup of coffee, one can only be humbled and awed at the gifts of nature and the ingenuity of people, and be pained at the impact we have.

The path to sustainability or a more respectful co-existence with the earth, is a spectrum.  At one end, are the companies who adopt sustainable practices as a legal obligation.  For others, it is purely a profit-driven motive, a strategic approach for survival.  Along the continuum is recognition that there is shared value in a balance (good for business, good for society).  At best,  a systemic approach, one that recognises the interrelationship between economic, social and environmental elements, is taken.

We can only do this if individually, we become more conscious of our own actions, and our sense of belonging in the world around us.   This collective sense of interconnectedness will help our communities and companies make more earth responsible decisions.

There are numerous ways and experiences that we can draw on to nurture this.  Here is one...mindful walking.  As Thich Nhat Hanh said,  'Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.'


Naomi Klein story ( as told in R. Brezny (2009) Pronoia is the Antitode of Paranoia, North Atlantic Books, page 76

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