There has always been a place in me containing a well of grief at the ignorance and arrogance of humanity in our treatment of the most beautiful and sacred places and beings we have the gift of sharing this world with. Because of this, along with a feeling of utter helplessness, in the past I have often actively avoided ecological issues, unable to see what I could do about it. Over time I have come to realize that I am being pulled in that direction, often with a substantial amount of resistance from myself. I have also realized that although there is a lot of pain around the issue for many, including myself, there is also a lot of hope. I’ve been a vegetarian for some time now but couldn’t seem to make the leap to a full plant- based diet. For the reasons I mentioned in my last post, I finally took the leap and once the first week was done, it has been relatively easy. For me it has been very much about a shift in my way of thinking as well as my way of eating. It became a more conscious decision about food and a more ‘consciousness’ decision about what I was actually doing and my reasons for doing it. It has become more about me taking personal responsibility for how I walk in this world, without causing harm to other beings, than whether I miss eating cheese (which I do, sometimes desperately). I don’t know whether its ‘ok’ to eat free range organic chickens who’ve had happy lives, but I do know that those chickens are slaughtered in exactly the same way as any others, causing the same fear and trauma. I know veganism is a contentious issue and often causes strong reactions from some people, including some of my own family and friends, but I can only speak for myself. I am not asking people to agree or disagree with me around this issue, I just know what I need to do for myself. We are all different and have different feelings around climate change and the ecological crisis and it will take all of us to do our bit.
As I mentioned in my last post, I come to this subject from a holistic angle, firmly believing that it is only by changing our level of consciousness, our inner world, that we can have any chance of changing our outer world. There is a deep connection between the ecological crisis and the spiritual crisis in our world today. We are entrenched in this ecological crisis because of our neglect and self-imposed separation from the natural world. This, in turn, is so overwhelming that most of us, including myself a lot of the time, cannot even face the extent of the devastation we as humans have caused to other inhabitants of this planet. Something like 200 species a day are disappearing forever from our world because of our choices and how we choose to be in the world. When we develop compassion and understanding of our inherent connection to the earth, it changes who we are as a person, our values and beliefs. Joanna Macy refers to where ‘the self is widened and deepened so that the protection of nature is felt and perceived as protection of our very selves’. Humanity and nature are one, we are not separate, and we need to realize this before it is too late. We live in societies with economies that depend on the misuse of the environment. We live in cultures where many of us are concerned for our own and our fellow human’s spiritual welfare while giving little thought to the systematic eradication of whole species. We are a dominant species that destroy other species to feed our own greed, which we have confused with need. While most of Western society is preoccupied with an anthropocentric and economic response to the environmental crisis, it is only through a combined spiritual and ethical response that we actually have a chance to solve the problems we’ve caused.
“She stepped into a small clearing and felt her skin prickle, the intelligent rise of hair on the back of the neck. Breathing slowly, she sensed an immense, sentient presence, sensed that she was not only witnessing the inarticulate Other, but that she was being witnessed” (G.M. Haugen)