A glorious living planet
— by Susan Eirich, PhD —
How can we take action for nature and animals in these difficult times? We have a recent addition to our e-newsletter called One Good Deed, but it has been a struggle. How do you suggest things to people that are of real use? What is of real use? And if we suggest it, are we willing to do it ourselves?
Part of the work at Earthfire is to look at the larger picture, including the perspectives of all nature, believing that our human-centric focus is too narrow to create real, lasting solutions without including all living systems of the Earth. But even working with just humans, how do we best proceed?
Life against all odds | Stock Photo
Do you suggest things to people, or is that disrespecting their own ability to think? At what level do you suggest things that doesn’t minimize our immense capacity for brilliance and creativity – a human capacity that we each individually have? Does is really honor that capacity to simply say recycle; donate; call your congressman? My own thinking is you don’t motivate people –you motivate yourself, and that motivates people.
At a retreat I attended recently, I was talking about the power of one person and the importance of Earthfire’s work trying to save land for wildlife and someone said, “Yes, spread the word.” My immediate reaction was, “Oh my goodness, no. That is too easy. And it isn’t enough.” It is asking people to do too little when this is a time when each of us, each single member of the human species, must step up to save our home for ourselves, other lives and future generations. The passive solutions of the past offered to us by “experts” (i.e. others) have become meaningless in the face of the enormity of our situation. We each have the capacity to become “experts” in how to save our home, and our Earth family.
This is not a time for cheap, easy actions that salve our conscience. This is also not a time to indulge in our fear and sense of powerlessness. This is a time for us to reach into our deepest selves to tap into our own innate wisdom, power and courage, to come up with solutions. Not to save the world – that is a bit much. But what is it that WE can do? And it is a chance to grow and blossom into powerful individual beings who together can make a profound change in how we humans have been operating for eons. To take advantage of and add to the shift in consciousness movement that is happening around the world, that all Life is interconnected. It is a chance for us humans to move toward what we can be, individually and as a species. Let’s grab it and run! No time for fear- it is a nuisance that gets in the way.
The power of a small group | Photo by Earthfire
The woman who suggested spreading the word also said, “People need to be told what to do.” My reaction again was, “Don’t minimize our capacities. Don’t sell us short.” This is no time to treat others as children that need to be led. We can each reach inside ourselves. The irony is that she herself is a living example of the power of one, a woman alone who overcame her innate shyness and a difficult childhood to lead successful powerful retreats influencing others, illustrating great courage and integrity. She is a living example of the power of one. And the power of listening to her own inner voice and the voice of nature. To something that guided her. That, I believe, is one of the secrets. To listen. To stop, give ourselves the time and freedom to listen to ourselves, which as we go deep to do so, seems to tap into a universal wisdom that we then take and put into specific action. There is pride and vitality and joy awaiting us if we begin to express our own innate capacities in the service of Life. The Earth needs each of us.
There is the power of one. There is also the enormous power of small groups. But I would ask – who starts the small groups? One.
Some of us feel too overwhelmed and powerless to believe that this is possible for ourselves, for cultural or family reasons. But all of us have it within us to be powerful when the call is urgent enough. It is in our nature. Until then, an option is to call a friend and find a group, to make the transition to feeling empowered easier. The sudden freeing of energy when we take an action step is amazing. We come alive. We find ourselves supported in unexpected and wonderful ways. It is a good way to live.
But we have to take the first step.
Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.