Today is a United States national holiday for giving thanks.
I am thankful to all forms of life (encompassing the earth, the air, the fire, the water and the cosmos) for every experience that we share. They all have a meaning and purpose. While this experience is personal, it also exists as part of the collective consciousness, a place without borders where we are connected to all aspects of nature. Peace begins here. It is a place where compassion and thankfulness become a part of our everyday existence.
What does is an example of a government making the environment a priority at the highest levels look like? Let's review some recent constitutional examples to answer this question.
Bhutan's first constitution resulted in two draft documents produced in 2005 and is scheduled to take affect in 2008. The document pronounces that it is every person's responsibility to pay attention to the environment. Article 5.1 states that, "Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom's natural resources and environment for the benefit of the present and future generations and it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the protection of the natural environment, conservation of the rich biodiversity, and prevention of all forms of ecological degradation including noise, visual and physical pollution through the adoption of environmentalfriendly practices and policies."
In addition, the government also has responsibilities to conserve and protect the environment. Article 5.2 further states that The Royal Government shall,
Protect, conserve and improve the pristine environment and safeguard biodiversity
Prevent pollution and ecological degradation
Secure ecologically balanced sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development
Ensure a healthy and ecologically safe environment
Article 33 of the new Iraq constitution, is much more limited. It states that, "every individual has a right to live in a correct environmental atmosphere and the state guarantees protection and preservation of the environment and biological diversity." It is a very general statement.
The current wording of the European Union constitution now includes recognition that all animals are sentient beings. Article III-121 states the following: "In formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the requirements of animal welfare, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage."
What is the difference? The Iraq constitution does not state that each and every human is responsible for the protection of the environment. It leaves the responsibility solely in the hands of the government. On the other hand, in Bhutan, care for the environment is a part of the culture and a person's everyday life. It stems from the Buddhist concept of sunyata that holds that no subject or object has a unique existence. The interconnectedness of all dimensions of life is recognized. In contrast, the EU recognizes animal welfare, but it currently lacks jurisdiction, and is only one form of environmental protection.
What is the best way forward, not only for single nation states, but for the benefit of the earth's ecosystem as a whole? How do we develop a global society that has respect for all living systems?
The Elevate film festival is meant to challange the international film community to create great works of social and global importance. Filmmakers are given 48 hours to make documentaries, narrative shorts and music videos that shatter stereotypes, unify cultures and elevate consciousness. The screening is at 8:00 pm tonight at the Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
My friend Randy McDonald's recent newsletter The Spark, discussed the risk we have in overexposing ourselves to the mass media, and the choice we have to "turn it off."
For the past two years, I have only listened to "my choice" of CD's in my California car, rather than radio, where someone else decides what they want me to hear. Last year, while attending Findhorn eco-village training for one month, I found that I didn't miss watching TV while I was there, because there were so many other interesting options for my entertainment focused on connecting with the community. This year, while in Costa Rica, I made the choice to go without TV for the year. I did honestly miss seeing live pictures of the US hurricanes, but again it is all about making a choice.
It's not to say that I don't get any news. I spend a lot of time on the internet each day. I find Watching America, to be an interesting read, which is a collection of translated articles about the US from the foreign press. We have had many discussions in recent weeks in our University of Peace classes about the overwhelming imbalance of power that the US has and what that means for the rest of the world. I wrote a Foundations for Peace essay on Risks for Peace and Security in the United States, and one of the sections discussed increasing anti-Americanism throughout the globe, which according to a 2005 Pew Research Report Global Opinion: The Spread of Anti-Americanism is "deeper and broader than at any time in modern history." While US foreign policies and concerns about globalization are major factors, the press certainly plays a role too.
What choice do you make regarding the amount and type of media you allow in your life?