All posts by Prairie Wheeler

Revisioning Values: our actions matter!

It’s all messed up! As our eyes open to the truth of these times, the depth of the problems becomes overwhelming. It’s all messed up! The economic structures, our value system, the way we interact with nature, social patterns, our water and waste systems, health care, education, transportation, food…iyiyi — how did it get like this? And what can we do about it now? It seems we need a profound change, so let’s work on profoundly re-visioning. Perhaps this is the most important work of our community — to find and plant, and learn how to grow the alternatives. Which of course we have begun.

New Principles:

*We are connected with all life

This, to me, is a profound rethinking that must occur to save our (and many other) species’ butts. In so many ways our culture now demonstrates that it has lost this essential truth. Anti-biotic soap. Hello, we are biotic. The tons of products we pour into our environment to kill germs will undoubtedly affect us. Our fear of and impulse to destroy almost all other species that dare to invade our space seems an aberration of nature. Witness ant sprays — because we are uncomfortable with a line of ants cleaning up after us or the impulse to automatically kill spiders in our homes (despite their benefit to humans by eating our predators.) We use pigeon spikes to evict pigeons rather than provide acceptable nesting places. We poison rats rather than build owl boxes. In general we make very little effort to share our environment with other species even when it is beneficial. And the untouchable subject of animal testing shows how far we have been able to wall off our psyches from our connections to all life. Our fear of other critters has been created by our lack of knowledge and experience of the natural world around us and exploited by advertisers. Children are growing up in cities with very little contact with natural wilderness. They often fear it or think it “nasty”. Native peoples see other species as kin and miss their absence.

*Share

It seems Americans have been sold a value system through advertising. The Church of Capitalism preaches that more stuff is better, that new is better. That you will receive love and respect if you have more stuff. In other cultures wealth was measured by what you gave to others, not what you hoarded for yourself. Where is the big advertisement in the sky that could remind us of the values of simplifying and sharing? How can a person with a second home scurry past a person sleeping on the street and feel okay? We can feel a more vital happiness and worth through community and sharing than through the accumulation of stuff.

*Slow and Simplify

Another disaster from all our consumption is that it is killing the planet. We are filling up landfills. There is a floating pile of plastic in the middle of the ocean that is the size of Texas. Dramatically we are creating and spreading toxic cocktails all over. Humans invented ways to rearrange molecules and create substances that had never previously existed on earth. It is only in the last 80 years or so that the ecological web of life has had to figure out what to do with plastics, pesticides, fertilizers, pharmaceutical drugs, solvents, adhesives, fragrances, preservatives, polymers, artificial flavors, polyester, etc. And now genetic engineering and nano-technologies will unleash whole new clashes with the evolved ecology.

Use less stuff. The advertisers manufactured false needs. Try quitting lotions, make-up, deodorant, mouthwash, shampoo, detergent (okay maybe a little eco dish soap), sunscreen (wear a hat..), etc. Your body will re-adapt and you won’t be poisoning yourself and the rest of us.

I sigh beseechingly — slow down. Take a deep breath. Detach from the economic system of perpetual increase. What if we all just collectively slowed down? Everyone starts to work half as much. Everyone can just stay in their homes. If you have a nice one in the hills with a pool, great — be grateful. Everyone’s home is where they live and if you don’t have a home you can create one somewhere that is not being used.

And construction. It needs to be guided by wisdom, not profit.

For new products, use the “cautionary principle”. It is insane to continue to allow new substances and technological products onto the market before they are tested for toxicity, not to mention disruptive potential on the ecosystem. I just read an article in the Oakland Tribune about some UC profs who decided to do a study on how much nano-silver comes out in the wash of the new “smell free” nano socks. Excuse me? There are products already on the market with nano silver, found to be 45 times more toxic than regular silver? And it is going into the sewage, therefore water systems, and therefore sludge used for fertilizer — despite very little being know about filters that can contain nano-sized particles IF someone was even trying to. And where are the studies or social discussions about the potential disruptions to human, animal and plant life on this planet? Yipes.

*Time is all we have, really.

Remember the gift of existence and bloom as beautifully as we can, in the soil we are in, to become who we are. What you do with your time IS your life. Don’t give it away to a job that is not what you want to spend your life doing, especially if the payoff is more toys. Please people — honor life and take a week off instead of buying some new appliance. Turn off the TV and live your own life. Turn off the ipods and sing your own songs. Make your own love. Discover yourself, your community and the living world around you. Reconnect with that which sustains life and brings joy. Flow with the seasons. Spend time in nature. Spend time alone. Grow your own food. Listen to birds. Watch the stars making circles in the night. Strive.