Towards a Earth-Centric Culture

I am feeling inspired to begin blogging once again.  Just to share some of the thoughts I am having as I delve deeper into the process of writing a memoir.  The writing process is giving me a bit of a more birds-eye view of my 70+ decades.

I am feeling such a heartfelt need to support the move towards a new culture. It seems to me the mainstream culture that we are enmeshed in is obsessed with appearance, possessions, and comfort and oblivious to real meaningful existence. What I dream of is a Gaia centric culture, a culture that recognizes the Earth and her resources both as a living sacred entity and a sacred trust. Almost all native and indigenous cultures related to the Earth in this way.  Sadly most of them have been obliterated.

In the last week I ran across an essay by Thomas Paine called Agrarian Justice written in 1795. It’s rather amazing and supportive of thoughts I’ve had often in my life, in contrast to most political rhetoric I now hear. He clearly attributes poverty to civilized culture.  He attributes civilization to the rise of agriculture which evolved into property ownership, simultaneously robbing non-land owners of their inherent right and support from the Earth.

He points to indigenous cultures like the American Indians of his day, as being poverty-free because the Earth and its resources belonged to everyone. He tries to distinguish between the access to the Earth itself as everyone’s right and inheritance and the improvements made to land through agriculture. His point is that the land belongs to everyone but the agricultural improvements rightfully belong to those who actually made them or inherited them. It is an interesting concept. Most interesting to me is the notion that poverty results from lack of access to land and the Earth.

He lived in a different culture than we do. Then wealth was based in agriculture which is why the taxation system that supports public education in this country is still based on property tax. An educational support system that is now bankrupt. At that point agriculture was the source of wealth.

Now it no longer is the source of wealth. It seems like now, most wealth is a result of manipulating the resources of the earth or manipulating ownership: the ownership of ideas; resources; even from manipulating illusions. It is all the territory of the Money God.

In that territory it seems to me there is a great deal of suffering, even among those who have the wealth. We are culture in great poverty of real meaningfulness in our lives.

By this I am referring to mainstream culture. Fortunately we here in Maine are not quite mainstream, thank God. As I look around in Maine I see examples that give me great hope of movement towards a Gaia centered culture.

Examples like the Juniper Hill School in Alna, a place-based education model, where kids spend four hours a day outdoors in all-weather and love it deeply. It clearly propels them forward in their academic studies with amazing confidence in their bodies and in themselves. I am sure there are other similar examples moving us away to the insane mainstream culture. But I think all of us to some degree are haunted by it.

I think Thomas Paine saw something extremely important. As is Helena Norberg- Hodge in her book Ancient Futures describes the transition she saw personally in Ladakh from an indigenous culture to a money-based culture.  The transition happens over a little more than a decades from a culture of common held wealth to a culture of rich and poor, haves and have-nots.

She points out that we are exporting our dysfunctional insane culture worldwide.  Perhaps the resistance to our culture among so-called terrorists, insane as their actions are, may be just a form of projection.

I, myself am fortunate to be able to eat from my garden. I feel this is a wealth that has been stolen from so many people.  It is so health giving of me, both spiritually and physically, and to the Earth herself. This wealth giving experience is so lacking throughout mainstream culture. People don’t have time. People here in the US don’t take vacations anymore. The statistics show people work harder and longer and produce less. A recent article in Time magazine pointed this out clearly.

I’m not saying that people need to have gardens. I am saying that people need to be deeply connected with the Earth. There is a sense of security that comes from a deep experiential intimate aware connection with the Earth, as the conscious aware Mother of All of Life including our very own life.

This is what ownership, money, the God of Owning Assets removes us from. In fact it orphans us. No wonder depression and anxiety are rampant in our mainstream culture.

Not even considering the global effects: the global warming; destructive weather patterns; the very threats that are arising to life itself, from what Thomas Paine called civilized culture.

I don’t mean to depress all my readers. But I think it’s important for each of us to assess our own lives, to ask: What are we devoted to?; What is the real priority in our life?  How do we honor and give back to Life and the Source of Life?

In the Thomas Paine essay he looks to government to correct the disparities that civilization has visited upon us all. Living in the era of the revolution I think he was optimistic about government in a way I find it hard to be optimistic anymore.  It seems clear, despite many well-meaning folks in government: the level of corruption; the impact of moneyed interests have a heavy hand that is taking control of the democratic process and creating a government aligned with the interests of the wealth owners.

That is why the optimist in me puts my hope in each one of us individually. What we invest our own lives in, is what will make the difference in the long run.

I think this is part of what my spiritual teacher, Dave Oshana means when he says “be responsible for everything.” He doesn’t mean to take on the whole world. I feel he means for me/ us to take the actions I/we can take, to take those actions very consciously. I am paraphrasing here, I don’t claim to be a spokesman for Dave. I am just expressing what I received.

I believe we each can have a profound effect on culture in the long run, in our lives if we choose to do so. I know doing so is a great joy because it is so right-on. I see that joy radiating in people who make that choice, like the teachers at Juniper Hill to mention one example only.

That example comes to my mind since I was recently at the end of the year events there, where my eyes were moist much of the time, witnessing such a ‘right-on’ educational experience and its results.  Kids radiant with confidence doing academic presentations way beyond their years, burying their teachers in hugs and shedding tears that the school year is coming to an end.  All such a sure sign of something that is right-on.

I trust that there are many such examples.  And I feel none of us can be complacent.  It will take all of us who have the awareness to move the culture forward in a Life sustaining direction.