Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nonviolence for our Mother Earth

Some practitioners of nonviolence believe that if they are ecologically sensitive and recycle every scrap of paper they are more nonviolent. Some believe if they reuse plastic bags until they leak, at which point they recycle them, they are more nonviolent. Some folks believe that if they give away their automobile they are more nonviolent. I do all these things and I agree. I would also assert that nonviolent education and training is by far the most nonviolent practice we can adopt toward our Mother Earth. Recycle swords into plowshares.

Isn't that a tautology? Perhaps, but more importantly, it's a fairly strong truth. Fix our methods of conflict management and we fix the most massive environmental problems we face--or at least go the farthest toward fixing them. Global warming? Change how we handle conflict. Toxic pollution? Radiation poisoning? Switch to nonviolence. Water pollution, air pollution, soil pollution--all slowed the most by one change: to nonviolence.

As Robert Duvall yelled to John Wayne in Rooster Cogburn, "Bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!" But it's the truth, Jack. Those are the facts, Ruth.

Turn to nonviolence and the largest consumer of fossil fuel on Earth, the US Pentagon, can recycle tanks into plowshares and stop its major role in driving our poor policies that are based on our oil addiction. Stop threatening the world with war jets and the nation's largest creator of Superfund sites, the Department of Defense, can switch from pollution to bioremediation. Stop threatening life on Earth with nuclear annihilation and the Department of Energy will no longer be manufacturing the most reverse Midas Touch material ever invented, nuclear waste.

For years of documentation for these claims, check out the Center for Environmental Public Oversight, a project led by Lenny Siegel, by far the most involved and knowledgeable person in this regard. Stories verifying parts of this pop up from time to time, though the overall connections aren't made in the thorough, overarching, big picture way that I'm trying to state here.

This is due, I believe, to the lack of connection between those who advocate nonviolence and those who engage in environmental protection battles. Those who specialize, like Siegel, in knowing astonishing amounts about the military's harms to the Earth are not the same people who advocate and practice and research and educate about nonviolence. That is why I believe Thor Heyerdahl is so prescient when he said (quoted in Walker and Daniels),

In order to penetrate even farther into their subject, the host of specialists narrow their field and dig down deeper and deeper till they can't see each other. But the treasures their toil brings to light they place on the ground above. A different kind of specialist should be sitting there, the one still missing. He would not go down any hole, but would stay on top and piece all of the different facts together.

When we begin to piece together this picture, we find that the strongest defenders of Mother Earth are those who promote, teach, train, practice and educate about nonviolence as the radically more adaptive method of managing our human conflict. When our national well being is most degraded by our 'protectors,' who needs attackers? Our Pentagon has done immeasurably more damage to our environment than bin Laden could in a thousand lifetimes of his nihilistic idiocy. Indeed, al Qa'ida's objectives to destroy America are met economically and environmentally most effectively by our choices of response to his attacks. He played us like a fiddle and those who advocate violence are indeed fiddling while our Earth burns. Transforming our conflict management methods is the key to repairing all these problems and avoiding them in the future.
Daniels, Steve E., & Walker, Greg B. (2001). Working through environmental conflict: The collaborative learning approach. Westport CT: Praeger, p 24.

1 comment:

Ian said...

We have all done damage to our environment, knowingly and unknowingly. And we can all do better. Education would help.