Thursday, 16 April 2009

down to earth

The earth is our mother; we must take care of her. I sang these words on Tuesday in the Dances of Universal Peace, as part of the Transition Arts festival over the Easter weekend. This chant comes from the native American tradition, from people for whom nature is sacred, who lived the words, not as an ideal but as practical, interdependent survival.

Now, only a small proportion of people on this Earth live within her carrying capacity. And most of those aspire not to. Only a tinier proportion of those people actually aspire to live within the planet’s means, and these are generally native people. A scattering of native tribes around the world have survived intact because they have, unlike us in the west, continued to take care of the earth in a way that doesn’t damage her or deplete her.

Last week new calculations from nef (the new economics foundation) revealed that on Easter Sunday this year, 12 April, the UK in effect stopped relying on its own natural resources to support itself and started to 'live off' the rest of the world. This day creeps earlier each year. It’s worth taking some time to ponder what this means, especially to other human beings. There is simply less to go around because of the choices I make.

It’s not a question of feeling guilty; that’s just a waste of time. It’s a matter of taking positive, effective action. That will mean something different for each one of us, and in the years to come we'll be learning what that means. For we are entering a time of Earth Care and Earth Repair, the age of Ecology. Every single choice we make about what we eat, how we travel, how we share with each other, allows us to start to practice Earth Repair, from this moment. We have a huge amount of power of choice; far more than we have been led to believe. As the song goes, Her sacred ground we walk upon, with every step we take.

As the sap rises, I’m currently deepening my understanding of Earth Repair on my new allotment. I’ve been a permaculturalist for 15 years, but I’m now learning from the greatest teacher of all, our Mother. And just like the happy man in this video, I’m finding that the rewards are many.

1 comment:

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

The following is rather long, but may explain why those that cultivate the soil are ususally very happy people it is from the publication Psychology Today:

"Call it soil-borne wellness, and here is where science is ploughing totally new ground. Researchers are discovering that growing your own food—however much or little you can do—is better for your health than anyone ever suspected. And the nutritional value of what you harvest is almost the least of it.

Growing your own food by messing around in your own garden proves to be nature's fruitful way of cultivating your health—physically and psychologically. The soil is a rich repository of microbes and other organisms with which we've coexisted from the beginning. As science digs deeper into understanding the effects of bacteria on human health, and especially on the immune system, it looks increasingly like ingesting components of the soil itself might be as critical to human health as the very finest fruits and veggies grown in it.

In 2007, University of Colorado neuroscientist Christopher Lowry, then working at Bristol University in England, made a startling discovery. He found that certain strains of soil-borne mycobacteria sharply stimulated the human immune system. Lowry finds that, mycobacterium "are very selective and specific." They excite small subsets of serotonin-releasing neurons and pathways in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, where they directly impact cognition and mood regulation. Exposure cleanly increases the ability of test animals to cope effectively with stress and anxiety".