Lynne Iser, Activist, EAN Board President
As a child growing up in the 50s I learned about democracy in grade school and junior high. I understood it to be a system – in which every citizen had the right to participate in the decisions being made in our country. At that young age, I was proud of my American democracy though unaware that not everyone in our country had the same rights.
But now the challenge of democracy extends beyond citizens and the nation to encompasses all the earth – all peoples, cultures, living systems, and more.
Could this system, of participatory decision making, be extended to other aspects of the living system in which we, as humans, live? Is this possible? Desirable? What could be the outcome?
EARTH DEMOCRACY, as described below, comes from the writings of Vandana Shiva, a renowned Indian elder, environmentalist, and author.
I find these writings affirming and thought-provoking. I am not sure how we can transition from our industrial growth society to a more life-affirming society. But I do know that without a roadmap, without a vision of what could be, we cannot possibly find our way. These ideas can provide that vision. I feel especially grateful for Vandana Shiva’s wisdom and perspective as an elder woman who reflects her Indian culture.
Here are some excerpts from Earth Democracy:
Earth Democracy describes a future based on inclusion, non-violence, reclaiming the commons, on freely sharing Earth’s resources; all unfolding in an atmosphere of dialogue and diversity, pluralism and partnership.
It addresses the global in our everyday lives; creating change globally by making change locally – that while we are rooted locally we are also connected to the world as a whole, and, in fact to the entire universe.
It is about nature’s evolution and our human potential – in which living cultures nourish “living democracies” and “living economies.”
Living economies are where Earth’s resources are shared equitably to provide for our food and water needs and, to create meaningful livelihoods. Only economies built on ecological foundations can become living economies that ensure sustainability and prosperity for all.
Living democracies are based on the intrinsic worth of all species, all peoples, all cultures; a just and equal sharing of Earth’s resources; and sharing the decisions about the use of Earth’s resources.
Remembering that we are Earth Citizens and Earth Children can help us recover our common humanity and help us transcend the deep divisions of intolerance, hate, and fear. It redefines “upholding family values” as respecting the limits on greed and violence set by belonging to the Earth family.
Earth Democracy is the universal story of our times.
Here are the first Five Principles of Earth Democracy:
1. All species, peoples and cultures have intrinsic worth
2. The earth community is a democracy of all life.
3. Diversity in nature and culture must be defended
4. All beings have a natural right to sustenance
5. Earth Democracy is based on living economies and economic democracy
You might want to read the whole article, from which the above is excerpted. It is available online, and in Seeing Systems: Peace, Justice and Sustainability, a collection of resources from EcoChallenge, and a new online study course being offered by Elder Activists for Social Justice.
Earth Democracy reflects EAN’s logo:
One Earth – One Humanity – One Future