Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015: Caring Ecosystems

Also posted @ LinkedIn | Dena's Blog 

An ecosystem is defined as "a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment."  We humans are part of the ecosystem. 
Within each ecosystem there is a web of connections and relationships, the proverbial "web of life. " When an ecosystem is healthy, there is a balance between the inhabitants and the resources available to them. This balance ensures the survival of the inhabitants and the environment itself.
When you stop to consider your local ecosystems and environment or the global environment, do you feel good about it? When you see images of fracking and factory farming, BP's devastating oil spill in The Gulf of Mexicofood waste contrasted with hunger and poverty, and how we as a species have literally trashed our oceans and land…doesn't it feel wrong how cruelly we treat the environment, other creatures, each other, and ourselves?
The driving force for this cruelty is the quest for control of resources. 

Resources = money.

Money is meant to be a tool, not a value. Our economic and financial systems should reflect our values as a society. Instead, money has shaped our values and has itself become a value system, the primary focus and priority in our lives.
In order to get more money, we compete, seek to dominate and, quite often, exploit in this quest for more money…more, more, more of everything. This quest destroys not only the security and well-being of the global environment, but the security and well-being of individuals, families, communities and even nations.

We can, as a citizenry, do better. We can start by having a conversation about prioritizing our values as a society.
One of the fundamental elements of Caregiverism is Care over Capital.
On this Earth Day 2015, what if we were to apply Caring Values to how we approach being better stewards of the environment and find solutions to the myriad problems we face:  Compassionate, courageous, inclusive, optimistic, wise, and integrity-based values. 
COMPASSIONATE CARE – Instead of an arrogant, cruel approach, what if we made decisions based on genuine care, compassion and empathy, not only for ourselves and loved ones but for the Common Good, and the planet which we all call home?   
The Dalai Lama's words from 1991 speak to this beautifully:

The earth is not only the common heritage of all humankind but also the ultimate source of life. By over-exploiting its resources we are undermining the very basis of our own life. All around, signs abound of the destruction caused by human activity and of the degradation of nature. Therefore, the protection and conservation of the earth is not a question of morality or ethics but a question of our survival. How we respond to this challenge will affect not only this generation but also many generations to come.

In the case of such global issues as the conservation of the Earth, and indeed in tackling all problems, the human mind is the key factor. Whether they are problems of economics, international relations, science, technology, medicine or ecology, although these issues seem to be beyond anyone individual's capacity, where the problem begins and where the answer must first be sought is within. In order to change the external situation we must first change within ourselves. If we want a beautiful garden we must first have a blueprint in the imagination, a vision. Then that idea can be implemented and the external garden can materialize. Destruction of nature resources results from ignorance, lack of respect for the Earth's living things, and greed.

In the first place we must strive to overcome these states of mind by' developing an awareness of the interdependent nature of all phenomena, an attitude of wishing not to harm other living creatures and an understanding of the need for compassion. Because of the interdependent nature of everything we cannot hope to solve the multifarious problems with a one-sided or self-centered attitude. History shows us how often in the past people have failed to cooperate. Our failures in the past are the result of ignorance of our own interdependent nature. What we need now is a holistic approach towards problems combined with a genuine sense of universal responsibility based on love and compassion.
COURAGEOUS CARE –  Instead of operating from a place of fear, which often leads to apathy and indifference, what if we had the courage to act upon what we intuitively know is a more nurturing, less destructive way of being and doing? What if we had the courage to believe that there are those among us who are brilliant and who are developing creative, innovative, alternative solutions more in alignment with a Caring Society? What if we had the courage to believe that we have the power to change the trajectory we're on as a species, and how we're impacting other species?
INCLUSIVE CARE –  What if we as individuals, communities and nations made decisions based on awareness of our interconnectedness (Interbeing) and the bigger, long-term picture which requires robust diversity and cooperation in order to thrive? What if we were to consciously pursue more harmony and balance in our lives and the world around us, rather than more money? 
OPTIMISTIC, ACTIVE CARE – Instead of anger-based cynicism and skepticism being "cool," what if hope, optimism and even visionary, care-based thinking were supported and encouraged, not demeaned and disrespected? (Egads, what if it were funded?!) Caregiverism refers to informed, creative, aware optimism; active optimism rather than the hopelessness and despair so many feel.

(I am encouraged to see a rise in a faith-based focus on Humanity's role as caretakers not "rulers" of the Earth.)
INTEGRITY-BASED CARE –  What if we were to have more respect for ourselves and all life and not accept that the way things are is the way they shall remain? What if we each were to stand up and speak out more often against corruption, destruction, exploitation and bullying in all forms and demand truth and integrity from our institutions, those leading our institutions and those on the public stage? It seems that before we can demand that of others, however, we must start by being honest with ourselves. 
WISE CARE – Wise care is balanced, thoughtful, mindful and sustainable (aware of "enoughness"), informed via collective wisdom and a multidisciplinary approach toward the nurturing of our collective well-being.  


What might a world compromised of individual yet connected societies and cultures look like if Caring Values were embraced and acted upon by the majority? 

What might our local and global ecosystems look like with such care? 

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