Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Nonviolence and nature
How realistic is the notion that nonviolence with nature is a path we should seek?
It is far past time when our species should be listening to the wisdom of the United Nations Environmental Programme and its post-conflict assessment units; finally, humankind is beginning to at least monitor and begin to remediate the damage done to the soil, air and water from war.
Turns out that nonviolence with our fellow humans is the most major step toward nonviolence with the Earth. As UNEP notes, "Since 1990, at least eighteen violent conflicts have been fuelled by the exploitation of natural resources, and many countries continue to face significant development challenges relating to the unsustainable use of natural resources and the allocation of natural wealth. Although environmental factors are rarely, if ever, the sole cause of violent conflict, the exploitation of natural resources and related environmental stresses can become significant drivers of violence."
And so the global conflict map on the UNEP site reveals a swathe of hot conflict and associated environmental wreckage linked to conflict over resources. Thus, a positive feedback loop with negative consequence is the result of conflict over resource and its resource damage. Unless we learn to value the ecology we are stuck in that sad and downward spiraling dynamic.
(Jinin refugee camp)
Thus the ancient nonviolence of at least some of the Stoics, of Jesus, of the Buddha and of the Jains turns out to be the practical way forward. Who knew? Doesn't this make the ascetics who consume such few resources and value peace seem prophetic?
Indeed, in her reflections on the 50th anniversary of Gandhi's death, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire noted that, "For many people, this ancient wisdom of the heart, the wisdom of nonviolence, may seem too religious and too idealistic in today's hard-headed world of politics and science. But I believe with Gandhi that we need to take an imaginative leap forward toward a fresh and generous idealism for the sake of all humanity. We need to renew this ancient wisdom of nonviolence, to strive for a disarmed world, and to create new nonviolence cultures."
Peace heals the Earth and a healed Earth provides for so many more people. Thus is conflict avoided, if we but have the wisdom to know and practice nonviolence.