I’ve been looking around at the responses to A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment that I’ve been a co-writer on, and I find that one of main disagreements with it has to do with the Economy and Politics. Some are stating that, “it is advocating a political, rather than a spiritual change”. While others state, “Humanity isn’t to blame for the destruction of the planet — capitalism and colonialism are.” believing that the statement isn’t calling these issues out. What I find fascinating is that those of us who were collaborating on this statement had already talked about these issues in depth and are in the statement already.
The challenge was to write it so that it wasn’t too far in any direction because, while you may be appealing more to a certain demographic in the Pagan community, you also at the same time alienate everyone else. This was to be a statement that Pagans as a whole could relate to and feel that they can follow through with. Everyone has their particular topic they feel more strongly about than other things, but that doesn’t mean its actually the only thing that matters. Most of the disagreements actually hinge on the one thing – humans. Whether or not Humans are causing the problem and what Humans should do about it. Its been made clear many times already that Humans are causing drastic ecological damage and it isn’t a matter of opinion, its a scientific fact. And you can’t change the problem without acknowledging it. Negative things shouldn’t be avoided but challenged.
Reality is that it does trace back to us, our actions – not as individuals, but as a whole. Just like a company can cause great ecological damage – the person who is maintaining the equipment, or the person who is doing paper work isn’t putting toxic substances into the ecosystem – but all together they do. Politics and Capitalism are likewise inseparable from humanity. We conglomeratively create and influence Politics and the Economy. Thus we are conglomeratively responsible, just like a company is responsible for the damages they do. I realize that many might find the comparison appalling, but that’s how things are. Companies are made up of people after all, and while some may feel that Corporations are the bane of humanity – lets not forget that we’re still talking about human beings here. And since I’m on the topic I’ll say it plainly – No. Corporations are Not A Person. Like I’ve already stated, they are made up of many people and together influence the outcome of that Corporation. Humanity as a whole together can influence the outcome of the Planet. If everyone who found that what they were doing was harming the ecosystem they depended on had responded by changing that behaviour so that it was no longer doing damage, we’d be in a different circumstance right now. But the fact is most people are not doing that and that is how we are where we are. That is the summary of it, but the nitty gritty details can get awfully challenging. So this Pagan Community Statement was to tackle what we do know and left it open to future possibilities.
Those who were opposed to capitalism and those who were opposed to anti-capitalism had decided against signing as a result. Which, by all means, they are more than welcome to do. The contrast however is rather fascinating. In our discussions we agree that our current problems are definitely linked to how Capitalism operates, we also agree that Capitalism isn’t the only economic system that causes great environmental damage. As it was pointed out earlier Stalin and Mao caused great environmental disasters directly because of their economic systems. That is why the statement was written to say,
“Any economic or political system which encourages the exploitation of Earth and people must be dismantled or substantially reformed. This includes any system based on endless growth.”
Because even if we move away from the Capitalist model doesn’t mean we won’t still cause ecological damage. That is why we emphasized
“transforming the systems of domination and exploitation that threaten our future into systems of symbiotic partnership that support our ecosystem.”…“operating in a closed loop system, not a linear one. This means moving away from disposable development and culture, and moving toward renewable development and culture wherein all products are intended for longevity, repairability, and easy recycling or composting at the end of their use. The sustainable economy of the future will be one with the shortest distances between production, consumption and recycling of byproducts.”
and that all of this
“is a collective challenge, and individual actions are necessary but not sufficient.”
“Technical solutions can never move forward without political will, and the necessary political will requires a shift in our most deeply held values, in our very definitions of what it means to be human, and in how humanity relates to the world. We recognize this shift as a spiritual imperative.”
We are no different than that worker doing equipment maintenance or that worker doing the paper work and the company their working for is damaging the ecosystem. They may feel like they are not part of the problem their company is doing, but they are by supporting it in their own small way. The Economy is essentially a kind of business contract we signed onto as a society. What we need to do is stop acting like we’re all in Earth Ltd. And start acting like a Cooperative because we all – humans along with plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, etc. – have a full stake in its outcome.
Fundamentally, we believe that a change in spirit is required, one that fosters a new relationship between humanity and other species and Earth as a whole.