The Environmental Movement Cannot Be Divorced From Issues of Social Justice.Posted: January 21, 2011
The title of this post is a favor to my wife. This was her Facebook status the other day. She felt I should comment. At first I resisted, but in thinking about it, and how the comment might relate to the issues of education, it became clear to me how it all makes sense.
It may be even broader than that. Is it possible that all of these movements which portend to create a more humane world, not all be connected? So then all of my interests, whether they be artistic, political, spiritual or in regards to education, all have to be connected.
My overall view of this always goes back to how I think about the tribe. What is a tribe? A collection of humans, who occupy a certain geographic location, gathered around the methods of survival. Here is Wikipedias’ definition:
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of states. Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups or clans. Some theorists hold that tribes represent a stage in social evolution intermediate between “Band society” and states. Other theorists argue that tribes developed after, and must be understood in terms of their relationship to, states.
So I always put it like this: Say someone in a tribe, should run off with the bulk of the food that had been hunted and worked for. What would be the response of the tribe? Likely this: as a tribal council, we would hang their “nuts” from a tree, while the rest of their corpse would be left out for the wild animals to devour. Then we would redistribute their worldly goods, including wife and children to the rest of the clan.
Of course we do not think this way, but what has happened in our society, both presently and historically, is that a few men and women have run off with the bulk of our food. They want to sell us back our water, our goods, determine where and how we can live. And while they sell us back our stuff, they pollute it, process it, bag it, wrap it, and shit on it, all in the name of good business. They have purchased the government that was originally formed “for the people, by the people” to cover their crimes against the rest of the tribe. As George Carlin says simply “they want more for themselves, and less for us.” Because “they” do not give a shit about “us.”
We are the tribe. And in our tribe we are responsible for the food we hunt and grow, the practical use of all the materials gathered there of, the education of our young by way of involvement. Medicine and health care is overseen by the tribe. The medicine man cannot elect to go into private practice because he wants a bigger tent with a scenic view of the forest.
The spiritual ways of the tribe are for everyone. And beyond the realm of believing in “make believe” saints, the life of the tribe is woven into the fabric of the tribal life.
So when I go into a friends home, one who considers themselves a follower of spiritual ideas, innovative thought, and I see a big bottle of Coca Cola sitting right there in the refrigerator, then I have to question their values. Are they not aware of some of the social issues surrounding this product, their repression of workers rights in other nations, the alleged murder of union organizers? Or the fact that this product has exactly ZERO nutritional value and is loaded with GMOs and processed sugar? Just the consumption of this one product speaks volumes in illustrating someone’s awareness of the world we live in.
In the The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the title character has a fixation on Mussolini. It seems that many in Europe during the years before WWII, thought that he was a hope for socialist equality and would rebuild Italy and Europe back to its former glory. In hindsight she was quite naive. There were many who thought that Hitler could do the same. In some ways they were not wrong, but the benefits were short lived, and disaster for Germany soon followed. Not to mention the horrific crimes that were committed in the name of this renaissance.
One commenter to my wife’s facebook post said that the same people always get screwed. I have to agree. If indeed 1% of this nation have 90% of the wealth and they are going after the other 10%, then all of ‘our’ issues need to be related. Because after they are done, what kind of society will stand in its place? From my optimistic point of view, one that is created by these many variant forces. Environment is related to social justice which is related to equality in education which might bring up the idea that children may need to be looked at in a new way with different ideas as to how they learn. This is all related to health care and how we care for ourselves, which in turn is related to the water and food we consume on a daily basis. How our environment is affected and protected. It involves the homes and the community we live in. It involves how we use energy. And the art we create to enrich that community. Looking over all of this is the spiritual purpose we feel in being alive. Why do we get out of bed every morning. Do we go to greet the sunrise? Not to support fantasies that close peoples eyes, but to be on a path of awakening. Awakening from a deep sleep. The dream that I am the only one in the universe, and only my needs matter. It is the bigger picture we seek. This bigger picture may be what the New Age is all about.