I was going to name this post ‘Permaculture,’ as this word would most directly reflect the environmental initiatives of which I am about to write. But as I wrote the number 42 in the title, I remembered The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and decided that ‘the meaning of life’ is actually a more accurate interpretation of the following. What we do with our thoughts, love, and action that gives back to the world is essentially the meaning of our lives. The following is how I believe that we can give our lives the fullness of meaning.
At Envision this past weekend, I asked a group of guys who have their own permaculture farm if they had learned anything new that they were going to bring home with them. They replied no, but that they got what they came for, which was inspiration. I immediately recognized what they meant because I felt it, too. Inspiration was flowing liberally throughout the festival grounds as everyone participating had brought love and sharing as intentions and the energy abounding was of a creative force, backed by those highest of ideals.
Rachel Carson’s 1962 novel Silent Spring warned humanity of the dangers of the toxic chemicals we were releasing into the waters of our planet. Her warnings incited backlash in a post-WWII America enthralled in the new industrial economy. The corporate whores of Babylon called the burgeoning environmental activism movement “anti-American” and ignored the facts supporting reason, that the environment is the basis of all economic well-being.
Then, in 1995, scientists began warning humanity that greenhouse gases were going to melt the polar icecaps, causing habitat destruction, global warming, biodiversity loss, and groundwater pollution. Despite environmental activists having achieved so many victories over the years since then, the war is still being lost and the most dire of salient predictions indicates that mass global extinction can occur as early as 2026 with a 50 gigaton methane burst occurring directly after the full icecap dissolution. Never even mind the cities that are being flooded as I write this and the many millions of people dying from drought around the world today.
People have so much to fear already, like nuclear wars, disease, psychos with guns, etc. What we need is something to embrace, and learning how to care for the world in the company of like-minded people is the best way to achieve this level of love.
Our deteriorating environmental conditions have everything to do with our rising stress levels. As the growing dominion of corporations drive environmental degradation in the third world countries with lax laws, they provide export income for the ruling classes of these countries, who then continue to sanction the destructive presence of these corporations (we can also throw in there the World Bank and IMF, who create the debt platform that weakens the laws of these nations to pave the way for foreign corporations to exploit their land and resources). The supply of cheap raw materials then filters back to the first world consumer classes who use their disposable income on disposable purchases, causing the creation of more suburbs to house more stuff, which in turn causes stress on the suburbians who must spend more time in traffic and travel to and from work for the corporate headquarters of these global exploitation machines.
I grew up in these circumstances and need to fight my earliest developed instincts for consumerism and laziness in everything that I do. Maria Montessori said that the oppression of the child is the most universal social problem, and I am inclined to agree. Those who grew up with hippy, alternative parents who made the time to show their children how to tend to the earth and teach them the things that their parents taught them about life and love have an easier time now with expressing themselves in loving, harmonious ways. I am lucky to have been born an empath, so I see, feel and hear the destruction of our planet in the core of my being, despite not having the foundation for connection.
According to Ed Ayers, editor of World Watch Magazine, our homes should be unique representations of our environment, “reflective of the local topography, flora, soil, sunlight, climate and culture,” and our energy should come from local sources. We should build our houses from local materials that have been sustainably sourced, free of toxic substances like glues, paints and carpet fabrics. We should use natural shade for cooling, conserve water and recycle waste. We should live in living homes.
What this type of living lifestyle does is provide an uplifting effect on others’ environmental resolve and creates ripple effects in the public consciousness to create new forms of community. Like attracts like, so people who are interested in pursuing a living lifestyles will be drawn to these communities, which share communal playgrounds and green spaces, gardens, water sources, tool sheds and meeting places. These places already exist, only that they have very limited motor vehicle access, meaning that it is rare for outside humans to accidentally encounter them. Public necessities are within walking distance, allowing for the time and space for more spontaneous formations of relationships and the sharing of tasks.
A true farm represents diversity, growing vegetables, fruits, and grains. Small herds of sheep or goats roam, fish ponds are created, and patches of forest, wetlands, and meadows are retained for balance in the environment, including wild pollinators, soil microbes and songbirds.
To live in this way, we must check our personal consumption. We determine our environmental impact through the industries that our dollars support. When we allow ourselves this type of living lifestyle, even for a short amount of time, the increase of oxygen to our brains, the natural daylight, and the food and water rich in vitamins and minerals will benefit our bodies so powerfully that our minds and spirits will naturally grow lighter. Our environment is our greatest asset and it is high time that we feel naturally elated by doing the right thing for ourselves, each other and our planet. There is no better time than now. Envision has inspired me and I look forward to sharing my efforts with you in the near future.