As a Contributing Editors of The Be Zine , we are currently accepting submissions for the September 15 issue (submission deadline Sept. 10) that will focus on Environmental Justice, which is also the theme of our 100 Thousand Poets (and friends) for Change virtual event on September 24. In order to propel the discussion into deeper focus from the outset, we invite and encourage contributing authors to ponder a few things about their perspective and their voice on this topic.
When we talk about Justice, it is sometimes assumed that people will agree on what is ‘the right thing to do’. However, as with anything else, our decision-making about Justice is influenced by our values, by the things that we deem ‘special’, ‘important’, or ‘sacred’. I propose that there are (at least) three categories of valued environments, or ‘Holy Ground’: Nature, Place and Community. Think about these three different arenas and how you see Justice being applied to them.
For example, if Community is your value, you may feel that Environmental Justice has to do with how people are impacted and how human activity creates change. If Place is your value, then questions about Justice probably will involve a particular area with borders of a physical or conceptual nature. It may be that feelings of injustice are felt in terms of ‘This, not That’ or ‘Us, not Them’ or in a desire to see a Place resist change. If Nature is your value, then you may see Justice in more fluid terms as the balance of resources between producers/consumers and prey/predator is in a state of constant flux with perhaps no ultimate goal.
So, as you sit down to write about Environment Justice in your unique voice, identify your values. Perhaps use the lenses of Nature, Place and Community to focus. What is important to you? Why? How does it affect your decision-making? What factors impact this ‘sacred’ ground? How do different cultural models or systems impact your cherished home? What feelings arise in you – what empathy for Living Things or Living Habitats? What fears?
Thank you for spending time with these concepts and these questions. Your presence, your life energy, your embodiment of love is a gift that we are privileged and honored to receive. Please, share your thoughts, your words and pictures with us!
“After a ten-fold drop in the population of the eastern monarch butterfly population over the last decade, a 2016 study predicted an 11%–57% probability that this population will go quasi-extinct over the next 20 years.” Wikipedia
Monarch butterflies used to be so plentiful. I would see them as a child living in the Midwest and study the way they emerge from their chrysalis in school. The Fall breeze was always full of milkweed seeds floating by. Their habitat was ubiquitous – all that open field land hosted several species of milkweed, the Butterfly Plant. When we moved to California where I went to High School, I would see Monarchs by the thousands at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz hanging in great clusters on the eucalyptus trees. Then I moved back to the Midwest and noticed how quickly all that open field land, the prairies, was being developed into shopping malls, parking lots and subdivisions. Here in Milwaukee, we had a Monarch Trail on the County Grounds where there was about 350 acres of open land. Then the city decided to put in a “research park” – meaning technical buildings and apartments – and reduced the Monarch habitat to 11 acres adjacent to the interstate that’s been under construction for 2 years…so far. Once a common insect, the Monarch Butterfly is becoming increasingly rare on the landscape. The life of this wonder includes the amazing feat of migration, which is also being threatened by climate change.
The age of Kings is just about over, as the modern world encroaches more and more on his kingdom. I found this one at George W. Mead State Wildlife Area during the weekend of Independence Day.
I wish you a long life and numerous progeny, Little Prince.
(This article is featured in this month’s issue of The BeZine. See the issue here.)
I took a quiz recently to test my Bible knowledge. I used to be a bona fide college campus ministry staff worker. I studied my Bible…religiously. So, I wondered how much I’d retained after having dropped the Christian label 6 years ago. I got one question wrong: “In a list of the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit, which one is NOT in the basket? Kindness, Peace, Forbearance, or Hope?” Turns out it’s Hope.
“Hope is a mannequin. Love is a battlefield,” sings Bobby McFerrin’s voice in my head.
Hope is a deceitful kind of thing. It sounds like a marvelous, Puritanical virtue. I think it’s a slippery slope. Hope is passive. “I hope it won’t rain.” There’s nothing you can really do about it, one way or the other. You’re stating a wish, a sort of desire or thought without any teeth. “I hope my insurance will cover this.” You’re placing the burden of responsibility or action on something, someone other than yourself. “I hope in the future.” You’re making present moment decisions while not being present in the moment.
On the other hand, I think Will has gotten a bum rap, as in “the willful child”, “not my Will but Yours be done”, “keep your servant from willful sins”, etc. I much prefer Ralph Waldo Emerson preaching Self-Reliance to that doctrinal negation of determination. I think it’s important to know what you want, what you like and why. At the same time, I think it’s very important not to get attached to those things. Some people will defend their desires because they feel that their identities are shaped by them, and they want them to be. In a Universe of impermanence, that can be problematic. What if the thing you desire is altogether unattainable? Or even unapproachable? Your identity becomes “the person who is not going to get what they want – ever”. Sounds like a life of frustration and suffering to me.
To be able to say that I think this thing is good, that I want to use my energy and resources to practice and promote this thing, while I acknowledge that much of the success of this thing remains out of my control, is Self-Reliance. Furthermore, I no longer believe that the success of this thing is in the control of a supernatural power. And I’m OK with that. I don’t need to have a guarantee that this thing will succeed eventually in order for me to feel my efforts are worthwhile. I can have a moral conviction of the value of this thing without supernatural endorsement.
I suppose I should mention that my philosophical transformation began after my husband died. My identity was shaken. I lost Faith; I lost Hope. “How very sad!” I hear you cry. Let me add that I was then asked repeatedly by a dear friend, “What do you want?” “Who do you want to be?” and I eventually found myself. I became aware of delusions and habits of thought that I’d never examined before. I discovered my will, my values, my feelings and my ability to accept change, adapt, and practice living gracefully and gratefully. I know good things intuitively, and I have learned that I am trustworthy.
And I believe that everyone else could say the same. See, I do believe in something.
I gotta admit, I am a more (ahem!) serious photographer. Nature close-ups, landscapes and the like are hardly the stuff of Booty Shaking shots. And when I’m in the midst of having fun, I usually don’t have my camera out. It’s a relatively big one, a piece of equipment that represents an uncharacteristic birthday splurge for me. So, it’s not like I’m popping shots from the hip while out clubbing. However… my kids came to my birthday party and danced in the living room once.
And then there was that New Year’s Eve we opened some Christmas Crackers…
My brother’s wedding reception was a great dance party!
Yeah, I’m a pretty mellow kind of person, but I do like to have FUN in my own way!
It’s all about the initiation. The beginning. The sun rising in the east and making the western sky rosy. The fog lifting. The commencement of new sound breaking out of silence. The birds, the frogs, calling back and forth. Another day, a new opportunity for life.
Looking at the effects that nighttime sunlessness has left on the world and realizing that other changes are still to come. The frost will melt. The air will warm.
It’s all about the sun. It’s come back again. Whatever we wished or feared, held in hope or anxiety, we have been given another day to work, to play, to love, to dread, or to be free. Continuation is the gift…or maybe the rule. What will you make of it?