Monday, 9 January 2017

This Changes Everything

I read This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein in 2014, and it was one of the first times I was able to make the connection between climate change, 'development' and marginalised groups of people.  I began to learn more about how the exploitation of earth was linked to the exploitation of 'other' people, the desecration of cultural belief systems, and future life.

Naomi Klein has always been able to connect the patterns behind our surface beliefs or values, and link them to a deeper social and environmental reality.  From a discussion on scientific solutions to climate change, to creating consciousness around the lingering impacts of colonialism and industry, she is able to take climate change out of abstract numbers or external fears, and bring it into an awareness of our everyday lives.  She also exposes the myth behind big business efforts to work towards a more sustainable future.

One of the most troubling aspects of the book linked to the losses we don't notice.  Although This Changes Everything focuses on oil spills, and the loss of life not yet born, I've since become aware of those ways we're unaware of the plants, animals or life which is unknown to us, but which is dying out.  The loss of life which happens everyday sometimes goes unnoticed.

My focus was originally critical social theory, and so my concern was often that environmental concerns ignored the voices of poor or marginalised people, who face struggles.  Until I read Ecofeminism, which focuses on those ways we put life on a hierarchy, and that the hierarchies themselves create a society where racism, speciesism, sexism or other forms of marginalisation can occur.  Ecofeminism asks us to question those philosophies which make up our everyday thinking, and all that is considered normal, so that we can search for different options.

Exploitation of earth has often been linked to hierarchal living.  In some communities, some animals are given more rights than marginalised people, and this is why focus on sustainability can become, in itself, a conversation of dominance.  It's why it is important to include the voices of all beings, so that we can work towards a different future.  But I'm starting to believe that we can only do this if we are able to feel a deeper sense of connectedness to the world around us.

Over time, I've learned that consumerism isn't an abstract concept.  It's about creating a sense of restlessness or dissatisfaction within some, to the detriment of others.  In some ways, it is also about putting those who can afford to buy or dispose of 'goods' regularly into the centre, so that poverty or harm to the environment or other beings becomes forgotten.  

Spending time in a world where there is a focus on life, relationship, connection and a deep awareness of place would increase our awareness of other ways of being.  It might also bring us to a space of healing - for both ourselves and those beings who exist alongside us.

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