News & Notes 647:World waking up – How do we get from Insight to Action?

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647 icon.jpg   News & Notes 647
30 April 2016



World waking up – How do we get from Insight to Action?


“Listen, and Go Forward With Courage”

Was there anything new about Earth Day this year? – As the annual celebration in honour of Mother Earth nears its 50th year, it has grown from being a world-wide ‘grassroots’ event driven by the people, to include the top levels of politics. Last Friday, in ‘the biggest civic event in the world’, leaders from 175 countries signed the landmark pact known as the ‘Paris Agreement’. These leaders must now go back to their national governments to ratify the agreement, a process which could take months or even years, with the deal technically becoming effective once 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions formally join.

Such is the machinery that even the most lucid insights into our planet’s critical condition (“The Earth has a fever, and the fever is rising”) meet huge difficulties in being translated into timely, effective action. Bureaucracies, lobbies and loopholes, compounded by our shared baggage of inertia seem to justify some of the most dire forecasts. But today, people across the world are watching and they know that what is being done is not enough. And as the Earth’s fever rises, something new seems to be emerging from the collective…

It may look like the ever-repeated cycle of frustrated people uprising, maybe inspired by some ideal, but predictably sinking back into tamas after a while. Yet some of what is happening seems to belong to a different story. At least, there is a clear awakening from long apparent impotence and inaction. People are rallying, not only online but in the streets and plazas, in France and in the USA and in Iceland and Turkey and in all continents. Gathering spontaneously, they baffle the governments through the absence of unified political agendas, strategies or affiliations. They are diverse crowds sharing basic concerns and universal values, and a yet deeper urge than what is being articulated. A need to find new ways of being, replacing the tried-and-failed systems of a crumbling world, like a snake shedding its old skin.

Foremost among concerns is of course the environment, with social media carrying the urgent call for change. One such initiative is “Break Free”, a global wave of resistance to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground. A documentary has been made following “four of the biggest actions – in Canada, Germany, the Philippines and Turkey – to tell the story of how regular people everywhere are working to end the power and pollution of the fossil fuel industry”. Provocatively called Disobedience, the 30-min. film can be watched and downloaded online from this Friday 29th April, with many community screenings over the weekend. The movement calls for “a just, democratic energy future based on 100% renewable energy”, and seeks to “transform growing despair into collective hope”. It calls for mass action by declaring: “The destruction of our planet and poisoning of our communities is a violent attack – we will not respond in kind. No violence, no property damage – yes to interference of business as usual. We will not harm anyone involved, even if our actions are met with a violent response. We are committed to a peaceful response to the global crisis we face.”

In Auroville too, the collective pressure is rising and recent events have loudly clarioned an end to ‘business as usual’. We’ve been shaken up by the clear-cutting on the Kalpana site and the ‘Frisbee Field’ – “sad stories” (in the words of a working group) forcing us as a community to deal with some of our simmering polarities and sore spots. Even while emotions are high and many of us are appalled that what we’re going through ‘is possible in Auroville’, it may be of some comfort to remember that we are in a laboratory where we will inevitably face the world’s difficulties, and hopefully work out solutions in the Light given to this privileged place. This might just help us to feel a bit less despondent and more compassionate (also towards ourselves), and to remember to ‘play the ball and not the person’, until we find the harmonising solutions so urgently needed.

In conclusion, we would like to share with you some words that have recently inspired us, all of them from the wisdom of First Nations:

“Treat the Earth well. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
“When you are in doubt, be still, and wait. So long as mists envelop you, be still; be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists as it surely will. Then act with courage.”
“We have to sit down and speak the truth to each other, and make a peace amongst each other. That peace will bring unity, and with unity there is strength. And with the strength of unity, we will have the love and respect to walk in harmony with all life.”

With these aspirations we wish you all a very good summer. Lisbeth is going abroad and may occasionally write home as a ‘roaming reporter’, and the rest of us are entering a very busy period, hence the Green Column may appear less frequently. We invite you all to keep it going by sending us your ‘green’ articles and contributions – the topics are infinite!


With love,
Jasmin, Lisbeth and Bridget
avgreencenter (at) auroville.org.in


See also