Our society’s obsession with economic growth and technology has fuelled impulsive actions and failed to consider the intricate roles of living beings. Production and consumption has taken center stage in human culture, causing depletion of natural resources and decimation of forests, ocean, wetlands and biodiversity.
Earth has enough for our needs, but not enough for our greed.Mahatma Gandhi
The political, economic, religious, educational and cultural systems, that served us well when human population was less than a billion, are no longer working for a planet dominated by 7.3 billion of us. Much like the cancer cells that multiply and feed on its host eventually killing it, humans are multiplying at an exponential rate and killing our earth. The population growth has overburdened ecological and social systems.
At this juncture in our planet’s history it may be worth pausing and contemplating that the well-being of human species depends on the well-being of the biosphere. Earth has provided optimal conditions for life’s evolution, but human activities are offsetting the balance. We need to stop polluting the water, soil, and air, and stop destroying the rich array of plant and animal species. We need to hold a sense of sacredness and revere the earth, taking from it only what’s needed. The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity, and beauty is indeed a sacred trust.
Since time immemorial, ethnocentric values (caring for oneself, community and nation) used to be ethically sufficient. Worldcentric values were not required because the consequences of our actions were inconspicuous, in fact we couldn’t even imagine the notion of global responsibility. But there is a difference between living in an ecologically conscious way with responsibility to our community and future generations, and living in a way that considers our impact on the earth as a whole.
An expansion in care and concern from ethnocentric to worldcentric values is a big leap, not a small step. And in embracing this worldview, genuine cooperation among humans becomes an immense moral and spiritual challenge, because human cultures are weaved in a complex tapestry that simultaneously supports autonomy and shared authority.
Meantime, as humanity tries to tackle population explosion, pollution, surging sea levels, wildlife extinction, and the myriads of environmental issues, a glowing light has been placed on our path — The Earth Charter (EC). The EC is a cosmic covenant that awakens humans to their innate connection with all living beings. It reminds us of our primordial bond, our interdependence with, and our impact upon the web of life.
The EC inspires us to honour the vital role of every living organism, including humans, non-humans, and all microorganisms that make up the strands in the web of life. It instills in us gratitude for the gift and beauty of life, reverence for the mystery of being, and fosters peaceful coexistence with the larger whole of which all are a part.
The EC was created after extensive consultations with diverse cultures across the globe, and on November 24, 2004 endorsed by the World Conservation Congress that represents over 100 countries. The EC is now recognized as “an ethical guide for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) policy.”
One of the key guiding principles of EC is, “We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more.”
But in our hectic pace of life it’s difficult to even comprehend that the act of simply “being” is necessary to de-stress and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
So the conundrum of our times is to remind humans of their intrinsic bond with the natural world. I believe this can be done by creating an intimate sense of belonging, honoring various cultures, inviting versatile ideas, and implementing solutions that are best suited for the planet as a whole — not nations or cultures or religions.
The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life… We have the knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our impacts on the environment. The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political, social and spiritual challenges are interconnected and together we can forge inclusive solutions.The Earth Charter
We can uphold the EC that fosters interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard by which the behaviors of people, businesses, governments and transnational organizations can be assessed. We can create ONE HUMAN CULTURE that integrates diversity in unifying people, so we can restore our ONE AND ONLY HOME — our planet Earth.
We can uphold the EC that fosters interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard by which the behaviors of people, businesses, governments and transnational organizations can be assessed. We can create ONE HUMAN CULTURE that integrates diversity in unifying people, so we can restore our ONE AND ONLY HOME — our planet Earth.The Earth Charter