Bluebell and Nima with JeanPhoto by: Michael O'Neill

by Susan Eirich, PhD

We never really know how things will turn out. Events that appear terrible can actually be positive in the long run. I personally would classify the result of the election a terrible thing, predominantly because of climate change. We humans can survive all the various dislocations that will happen based on poor political decisions, though that is not to discount the suffering that individuals may go through. But with denying climate change we will be affecting all Life on earth. All life lies helpless before us, awaiting our decision and actions.

But the good news. We can use this event to energize us to stop depending on government to take action. Yes they need to. Yes they can do things we as individuals can’t. But we can do a whole heck of a lot.

We can get together in small groups in our communities around the country, decide what we can do , and support each other in doing it. The Santa Barbara Climate Action Plan is an example of what communities can do. We can immediately and loudly use our economic power to vote and let it be known where we purchase products, why we will buy this and not that. Research which products support Life or at least don’t hurt it. There are organizations who have already done some of this research for us but their results need to be more widely disseminated. We might organize or participate in a week-long media-attractive boycott of products or companies that don’t take the environment and non-human life into consideration. As the writing appears more clearly on the wall that we ourselves are working to wean ourselves from oil products, the change from oil to alternative energies will happen faster.

Richard Landry, in his blog, “The Future is Still a Safe Place” writes, “Many thinkers about the future have said that when the institutions of government fail us, business will begin to take the lead in creating a world that works for all. I think we are at a time like this. I think that all of us have much more power individually than we might believe. We make powerful economic decisions every day, in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the vehicles we use to carry us to and from work. At work, we make choices every day. When we come home at night, we choose what to feed our minds and hearts with. We have enormous power as individuals, and even more as a group.”

Farmers market - Stock PhotoFarmers market – Stock Photo

We can have values discussion groups exploring what we actually need and how much we have been influenced about what is necessary for a good life. How important is “convenience” and what costs are we willing to pay, or ask the earth to pay, for it? We can assign someone in our group to research and educate us about the costs to the Earth and climate of the things we buy. What is the cost to the Earth of all that packaging we use? How much does that support big oil? Where does the food we eat come from and does the means of growing it deplete or enrich the earth? We can use this election to begin to wake ourselves up. There will be powerful forces arrayed against this. But Mother Nature is a bigger force in the end and she is who we need to ally ourselves with.

We can also stop depending on non-government organization to fix the problem. Since the election I have received endless e mails from non-profits saying; “What you can Do! Donate Now!” That is not the message we need- to give money to organizations and let them do the work for us. That does not empower us, and that is not taking responsibility. This is OUR Earth. What they have been doing hasn’t really been working very well in the overall scheme of things, and the successes we have had can be undone as political winds shift.

We can create bold action using fresh eyes. That is why, with interesting timing, we designed a new website specifically designed to hear your voice, and ideas and inspiration about what we can do; need to do, combined with voices from nature. Where we can join together in council, always keeping the beauty and needs and perspective of the rest of life alive in our thinking. If we do this, expand our circle of conversation to include the wisdom of the trees; the animals, all living beings, we may come up with some surprising new approaches that we can’t by exclusively using just our human brain and perspective. More and more stunning research is pouring forth about the innate wisdom to be found in nature, from tree communities that support each other to the intelligence of slime molds that can “outthink” a computer. We are limiting ourselves in our search for solutions. We need the full creativity of ourselves and nature to find a new way of living together on our Earth.

We can add a spiritual element to our thinking about the environment – a “spiritual ecology.” We can’t depend on the government to do this! This has to come from our humanity. Although it is difficult, if we come from a position that celebrates the beauty and joy and gift of life as we try to solve problems, even though it is difficult in times like this, we have a better chance of coming up with more expansive, long lasting, win-win solutions. Very simply, spiritual approaches and focus on joy and beauty expands us, leaving more mental space for innovation. Worry and anger leads us to narrow our focus, leading to narrow solutions, just when we need broad ones. Spiritual approaches can result in solutions with very practical real world results. Our separating spirituality from action is a mistake.

Our website is all set up to have this national online conversation.
There is an enormous side benefit to this. Getting out of ourselves, to work together in community towards something larger, and life affirming, is also the surest way to happiness and good health.

We need to do this as quickly as possible before the new policies harden, and we lose the impetus of our upset. This election could provide enormous energy to a crucial paradigm shift for how to live joyously and sustainably on the Earth. It is already happening but not fast enough. I don’t know if we will do all this. It is quite a challenge. But we could.
We owe it to us and all living beings who are now, essentially, under our care.
These are my first thoughts. Do any of them resonate with you? What do you think we can do? Please send your comments. We need all of us, to make this work.

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