From Mother Earth to Biotechnology
Our relationship with nature is terribly out of balance, and it is up to us to help change our destructive course. This article outlines the problems caused by today's dominator culture, and lists ways that you can help our return to a partnership relationship with nature.
Creatures of the Earth are being squeezed out by ever more people. Holes in the ozone layer let in cancer-causing radiation. Global warming is melting our polar ice, threatening our coasts. Pollution fills our seas, our air, and our food, and every one of these problems is of our own making.
It is clear that our relationship with nature is terribly out of balance. Many of us are beginning to realize this, and to realize that it is up to us to help change our course. This article outlines the problems that are caused by today's dominator culture and shows how a return to a partnership system can help.
Technology and Industrialization
Those who fight environmental regulations claim that there is neither an environmental problem, nor a population problem. All that is needed, they tell us, is increased production and consumption. But in truth, environmental problems are actually the result of these kinds of "solutions."
Through technology and industrialization we have changed the face of our planet, and caused devastating environmental crisis. But the problem is not industrialization itself. There is no intrinsic reason that industrial technologies have to exploit and pollute our environment. With progress toward a partnership orientation have come laws to protect our environment and industrial processes that avoid waste and pollution. The problem is the dominator culture in which they were developed. Overconsumption is inherent to dominator societies where consumption is a symbol of power and control is a substitute for emotional and spiritual fulfillment. If we believe the dominator ethos of "man's conquest of nature," we will likely do irreparable harm. If we seek partnership and harmony with nature, technology could vastly improve our lives.
World population is growing by a staggering 90 million people each year causing ever more encroachment on wildlife, desertification, and resource depletion and pollution. How can we defuse this "population bomb"? Study after study shows that the only humane way to reduce population growth is for women to have free access to family planning and equal educational and economic status. To do this, we must accelerate the global shift from domination to partnership.
Our present economic system depends on a cycle of overconsumption and despoliation. As long as businesses do not include in the cost of manufacturing what economists call "externalities" - such as the cost to our environment of damaging industrial processes - we cannot curtail activities that pollute our air and water. We need economic rules that support partnership relations, environmentally responsible corporate charters, international treaties that protect nature and new economic rules that accord value to the work of caring for our Mother Earth.
What We Can Do to Protect Nature and Ourselves
To protect our natural environment we must work for systemic cultural changes both big and small. Changing our own habits of thinking and living contributes to change. Joining together to make our voices heard can also have an impact on business and government policies. Environmental groups have expanded popular awareness about our environmental problems while others are working to defuse the population explosion through family planning and raising the status of women.
Here are a few things you can do to help change our course -- to protect nature and ourselves.
Remember that you are not alone, that thousands of groups all over the world are working to restore our Earth. But more of us need to also work to change the values that are driving us to the brink of ecological disaster. We urgently need cultural values that support partnership rather than domination -- that teach us that we are part of a miraculous web of life interconnected with our Mother Earth. We need to strengthen partnership values and leave behind the old programming of conquest and control that has kept us from moving to more balanced and harmonious relations with ourselves, with others, and with Nature.
Adapted from The Power of Partnership: Seven Relationships that Will Change Your Life (2002) by Riane Eisler.