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Thursday, November 7, 2013
Thirty Years Hence
I was barely twenty years old when the term "deep ecology" was being coined. Many of us had been on the same page about ecology and human interaction with the natural world, but some, in intellectual circles wanted a codified system of thinking about these issues that would fly in the face of the uberwealthy oligarchs who had run our planet under the wheels of "progress" for far too long. Although the reality that informed our perception exists worldwide, our thoughts about it seemed like isolated calls for change. What many felt would be needed is an over-arching platform on which to build social and political movements for change. The horrific dislocation of populations, the extinction of species and squandering of shared resources such as the food web, the air, fresh water, oceans and the soil led many ecologists and environmentalists to seek a concise and precise way of elucidating basic principles for positive change. Out of this desire came,
The Deep Ecology Platform.
1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.
2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.
3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.
4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.
5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.
6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.
8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.
—Arne Naess and George Sessions (1984)
The intervening years have seen more demonization, more vehement rhetoric, more finger pointing and more obfuscation of these ideas than we could have ever expected at the time. The monied interests found it easy to find examples of overzealous tree-huggers, eco-terrorists and anarchists who they used to paint the entire movement with. Dangerous as we were perceived to be for their bottom line, many of the ideas we brought to the table have yielded even more profit for their coffers. The scary, loose cannon, threatening hippies were few and far between, but the brush they used to paint us with was wide enough to gloss over any good ideas that sounded like they were in league with the "opposition". From the early days, there were those of us who came to the table saying, "We are not against anything!", "I refuse to take an 'anti'-anything status." or "Tell me what you are for." I am, and have always been, protesting for a desired future world that honors the planet Earth, her people, the creatures who attempt to survive here and the harmony that can be struck between the living creatures who reside upon or within the land, air and water as well as the inanimate objects that are often exploited for our (human) purposes. This distinction is often lost or obscured when powerful agents guide the discussion.
I would like to delve into each of these principles more deeply, but the mind-blowing fact is that once integrated into a coherent lifestyle, compartmentalizing becomes more difficult. It may take some time, but in the coming moons I will attempt to do just that, reflect and enhance the meanings that I have found from my association with the deep ecology movement. Millions of tree seeds have been planted with these hands. now, with the technology of keyboard and worldwide web, I will attempt to plant millions more ideas in the hearts and minds of humankind. Keeping in mind that humanity is rarely civil, frequently delusional and malleable, perhaps I can find the right words to resonate within the hearts of humankind. Lord and Lady know the future depends on finding a new way forward.