Posted 29 May 2011, by Patricia Randolph, The Cap Times, host.madison.com/ct/
All beings have “the right to life and to exist.” — Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, April 2010
“Humanity is now using nature’s services 50 percent faster than what Earth can renew, reveals the 2010 edition of the Living Planet Report — the leading survey of the planet’s health” according to The Good Human website.
Nature’s services include wildlife. Sometimes hunters rationalize their sport with the model of American Indian traditions of ritual and prayer, assuming that the animal willingly agrees to give up his life. Just as we no longer treat black people as chattel, the indigenous people have evolved beyond that rationale to declare reverence for all life.
Some ancient cultures believe that the trees are the wisest beings and the animals are our teachers. We are to be humble and learn from them. Listen to them. Their suffering is our own. We must act urgently to replace our killing culture with a living paradigm.
There is no doubt that the dominant culture is killing the planet. Nature has been treated as a subsystem of the economy rather than the other way round. With all the new accumulation of knowledge, it has not translated into understanding.
Nothing can be more important than life.
With billions of animals confined for slaughter, with killing interests in control of state agency agendas to destroy wild native nature by farming her for maximum killing profit, we either awaken to the scope of this destruction, or allow this juggernaut to destroy life as we have known it. There are some very educated scientists who assert our trajectory threatens our very survival as a species.
After the Copenhagen global warming conference failed, Bolivia held its own gathering of world citizens in April 2010. There the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was adopted by indigenous peoples and activists from all over the world. This document recognizes Mother Earth as the source of an indivisible linkage of interdependent beings with a common destiny. It gives legal standing to all beings.
This ethos harks back to the core teachings of major religions that we are all one. When we harm the other, we harm ourselves. With the rise of cancer, autism, heart disease, obesity, chronic wasting disease, and with the prevalence of oil spills, tsunamis, nuclear threat, Queensland and Pakistan under water, the Mississippi Valley flooding, unprecedented storms and tornadoes, drought, and war, we need to change almost everything. The declaration puts it this way:
“The capitalist system and all forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change.”
This declaration puts front and center that the rights that humans have given only themselves create imbalances that come back to haunt us, and may end us.
“Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.”
The revolutionary concept here is that destroying non-human life on the rationale that it is useful to humans to do so is an unacceptable violation of other beings. We do not have the right to kill or confine because we want to eat, display, own, wear, use or profit from another being’s life for our own human purposes.
This paradigm dignifies human rights with our profound obligations of stewardship to ensure the rights of all beings, to include the following:
The right to life and to exist, to be respected; the right to regenerate bio-capacity and continue vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions; the right to maintain integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being; the right to water, clean air, and health; the right to be free from genetic engineering, contamination, pollution, toxic and radioactive waste; and the right to full and prompt restoration from the violation of these rights caused by human activity.
We protect ourselves only by protecting other beings.
My 79-year-old American Indian neighbor pronounced the document “just common sense.”
I invite you to help organize on behalf of our bears, bobcats, wolves, coyotes, deer, our ducks and mourning doves, who cannot defend themselves. A webmaster would be really helpful. Artists, songwriters, students, organizers and representatives of like-minded groups (peace and justice, unions, teachers, hikers, bikers, birders, wildlife lovers and photographers) — please step up to help by contacting me. I am also available to speak to groups.
June 12 column: For the love and defense of Wisconsin’s gentle black bears
Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. firstname.lastname@example.org