I recently attended the panel for peace week about the relationship between peace and sustainability. The three panelists delved into the various aspects of humans and their relationship to the environment, and how current systems and trends in society affect peace and limit our ability to be sustainable. The three main issues associated with sustainability and peace discussed were ecofeminism, deep ecology, and sacred activism.
I was glad that they brought up ecofeminism because I think it is a really valuable school of thought. The interconnection between oppression of women, as well as exploitation of nature is so strong and evident. The speakers connected this to the overarching issue of hierarchy, and how men tend to be put above women through social constructs developed throughout history. Until these constructs are broken, the cycle of oppression will only continue. This tied in to their discussion about deep ecology.
The discussion of deep ecology was broken down into three levels. The first level was about each person’s values and opinions, and how that shapes our actions towards the environment. Before we expect to make changes to the environment or social structure of people, we have to understand our relationship with ourself and our values. Next, we have to evaluate our relationship with the world. Thinking about the earth and its inhabitants as members of our community, rather than resources to be used as we please. Lastly, we must understand the structure of society and its systems. That way, we can see why we have certain problems. Thinking of deep ecology in these different planes was extremely helpful for me to see where humans fall into the problem, and how peace in general, as well as peace with oneself can make a difference in sustainability.
The last aspect of the discussion was about sacred activism, or working on ourselves. The first part of this is creating states of empathy and sympathy. Practicing this for five minutes a day can help a person incorporate these behaviors in their everyday life, as well as their perspective on life. The second part of sacred activism is the ability of recognizing darkness of our nature, and how we can control that darkness. Admitting that all humans have a dark streak is helpful, because it equally shares blame among humanity, instead of one group of people.
I am really thankful I went to hear the panelists discuss sustainability through peace. I am currently taking environmental ethics, and I have learned about these philosophies before. I had a broad idea about how to connect them to the environment and various issues, but I never incorporated them into my own thinking. After the discussion today, I was able to use ecofeminism, sacred activism, and deep ecology to find different perspectives on the world. I wasn’t looking to find answers to any problems, I just learned how to consider different variables in a bigger equation. I also feel like I am more connected to problems of peace and sustainability, because the peace discussed was mostly about peace with yourself. Sometimes it’s intimidating to think about how your actions are going to affect the world. Bringing down the scale to size is comforting, and focusing on how you can make peace with yourself makes it easy to find balance in your life.