Environmental activist Pete Cuming made a dire prediction today at the second day of the Newkind Festival: “If we’re not careful, we’ll all get to where we are going.”
And with that, the gauntlet was thrown. Where exactly do we want to go? What is our future, together?
It’s been a while since I did some visioning for myself and for my world. I’ve certainly thought about what I do not want.
But I also know that you need to have a goal in order to reach the goal. The first step to manifestation is to create a thought. Writing down the thought is next in creating something from nothing. Acting on that dream gets the progress in motion. And before you know it, after weeks or months or years of plugging away, working toward it, your dream becomes reality.
As I sat in the audience today at this social justice conference and listen about plant-based eating, sustainable consumerism and competing priorities of environmental protection, I realized that I am among some inspiring people. Over lunch, I discussed whether there is a place in activism for anger when heart-based arguments are always more convincing than factoids. When I headed back to my teepee to add a couple layers against the Tasmanian wind, I found myself wrapped in conversation about the way New Zealand models healthy and authentic respect for its indigenous people. This festival is rich for aspiration.
I find myself wondering, then, what I wish for: my vision for our Earth. Some of it came quickly.
- Minimalism.It’s an end to consumerism, which is the heart of so many environmental and social problems. Minimalism also reduces the need for long, grueling work weeks for people who hate their jobs. It creates time to foster relationships. It offers opportunity to play. (Did I mention I fell off a playground slide last week? Got the scab to prove it!)
- Care.A good Earth deserves children and elders who are cared for. We should have what we need to take care of ourselves in a holistic way. Our emotional, physical and spiritual needs must be met. Our mental health should be a priority. We need to feel cared for and loved, regardless of our family or our history.
- Love for Earth. I talked with a woman named Nina at dinner about a project she’s working on for Mission Lifeforce, a non-profit working to create international law banning “ecocide.” Imagine it: The destruction of the natural ecosystem is a crime. It should be a crime, and it is in my vision for the future.
- Whole, Plant-based Food.A world of people eating a vegetarian diet would mean fewer people starving with fewer resources being used. There’s no reason to eat meat. There really isn’t.
- Living Wage. I’m talking about class equality. It’s high time for the end of the era of a completely grotesque distribution of wealth. People working in factories shouldn’t be making pennies when the CEO makes millions. In my vision, no one has to choose between going to the doctor when they are coughing up blood and eating or living under a roof.
- Respect for All Living Beings.It’s 2019, for God’s sake. Enough of racism and sexism. Enough hating people because they don’t look like you or love the same kinds of people you do. No more destroying the lives of people for the short-term benefit of others. And my vision includes meaningful apologies for those people who have been done wrong, too.
I’m interested in hearing what you envision for us. It’s time.
Another activist, Claire Ogden, reminded me today that we are all leaders. We all have the ability to inspire others to progress. But there’s a reason why you might not feel like you are a leader. And here’s a likely reason: Fear. You may fear that you’re not good enough to lead.
We live in a scary time, no doubt. When you hear statistics like there are only 12 years left to properly address climate change before catastrophic repercussions begin, you should be afraid. But when you hear things like “Mexicans coming in caravans to infiltrate the border,” you should not be afraid. You should not be manipulated by anyone, including me.
But you should also not be afraid to say what your heart believes. Another speaker today, Dr. Farvardin Daliri, talked about the importance of compassion in life. I believe – and, honestly, I have to continually remind myself – that I have an endless well of compassion within me. When someone is short-sighted or cruel in their opinions, I have to remind myself of the old wisdom that “hurt people hurt people.” If someone is racist or simply eco-centric, I know (even if they do not) that they feel victimized and wronged. They haven’t connected with their power – but you should, even if you, too, have been wronged.
We’ve all be shut down. When I was in fourth grade, a group of my friends told me they weren’t going to be my friend anymore. For months, the girls who I used to hang out with wouldn’t talk to me. I cried a lot during that time. Eventually, my mom picked up on my hurt and called the lead mean girl’s mom. The next day, the girls decided to be my friends again. It was all water under the bridge.
It taught me a big, big lesson, and it likely isn’t what you think. I forgave the girls. And when the other girls in my class were more than happy to be my friends, I realized that everyone is a potential friend if you are open to them. I had enough room in my heart to let in everyone. Everyone can be an ally. I wasn’t a victim – those girls were just jealous because at summer camp, we performed in a lip sync competition and the judges honored the little drama queen in me as the “best lead singer.” I knew they wanted to feel special too. We all deserve to feel special.
Fast-forward 31 years, and I’m here to tell you: You are special. Those girls were special. Those other girls who were kind to me when the others weren’t, they were special. I’m special. We all have the value within us to be a leader. We all deserve to stand up and be heard.
So, what do you want to say? What is your vision?