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Rights of Nature: One Big Step for Nature, One Small Step for Humankind

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/07/10/rights-nature-one-big-step-nature-one-small-step-humankind

If you take anything from Grandmother Earth, always leave enough for All Our Relations to share. And leave a gift to both thank Grandmother and to return the energy she has given you. Example…you buy a house. The first step is to either burn sweet grass and sage, then smudge the area, beginning in the East. Or to take a stalk of sage, dip it in water, and sprinkle the area, again beginning in the East. Plant native trees and plants. Say hello to the Others who live there by placing food and water for them. Then, think about each thing you do. What effect it has.
In New Zealand, a person was appointed guardian ad litem for a sacred River. That river now is a person under the law. Way past time for the US of Abuse to do the same with our remaining open, natural areas. We are such a taking culture. Time to become a child of Grandmother. Ask But Why? to everything. From But Why do we have cable programs 24/7, with all those adverts selling useless shit? But Why do we need two or three personal cars? But Why can’t we re-hab this neighborhood with sidewalks and bike lanes instead of non-drivers constantly dodging and watching for cars. But Why do we allow fences to block public access to open areas(I have that problem-I could walk along the small creek feeding into the Black River except for all the Private Property and its fences.)


Wow, this is really good, in ways that so many analyses miss the point. Some key points that Linzey writes:

“… our incessant bulldozing of the natural environment must end…”
Yes, we have to STOP the industrial assault on nature and ecology.

“Returning to normal, of course, means returning to an economy fueled by the belief that endless growth is possible… including the notion that our needs and wants should rightfully supplant all others, in the name of economic expansion, population growth, and human “exceptionalism.”
Yes, it is HUMAN EXCEPTIONALISM, ego, hubris, narcissism, solipsism, at the foundation of this world view, and at the heart of the destruction of ecology.

“… those in power stay in power by diverting our gaze…”
Yes, the great media machine is primarily dedicated to STOPPING us from knowing.

“Turning it around means changing almost everything we know. It doesn’t mean no fracking for oil and gas, it means eliminating their extraction. It doesn’t mean expanding production of power by leveling mountains for industrial wind farms, it means actually reducing the amount of power that we use. It means consuming less and using less.
Yes yes yes, we need to use FAR LESS energy, not imagine and try to realize an ever-GROWING energy use.

“Since we value free speech, we protect that speech through the creation of a protected right to speak (First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution).”
This is a point i wish he would bring more to the front of his argument for rights: Rights are not “natural,” they are human inventions, invented for reasons.

“Since it is beyond thinkable in the U.S. that the federal and state governments – which rely on largesse provided by the largest industries of our day – will suddenly find themselves in favor of a system of law that threatens that, a grassroots movement must emerge which becomes powerful enough to force them to do so.”
Yes, we need a mass movement, operating beyond merely electoral politics, that gains power, and exercises power, to STOP the horrific outrages of “the economy.”

“As Derrick Jensen, an environmental author, writes…”
Holy crap, he even cites Derrick Jensen!


And why do we “need” more kids? Grandmother Earth has no such need! How can we always, into perpetuity, leave enough of EVERYTHING for All Our Relations when there are more and more human mouths demanding more and more of EVERYTHING? The species with ALL THE RIGHTS (humans) suffers least than ALL THE SPECIES stripped of any and all rights! How do we change our moral codes from: “When it comes to the other animals, the only moral issue we recognize is how will exploiting them benefit humans” (an idea propped up by religion) to “Taking our place humbly side-by-side with all our fellow Earthlings, our equals in spirit” (an idea antithetical to religious dogma)?


A DNC declaration has as much substance as a presidential tweet about hydroxychloroquine, and even GND supporters frame its benefits in economic “growth” terms, and are silent on the necessity for a deep rethink on just what is and isn’t truly necessary for a dignified life.

This is an idea whose time has come - or are we already ‘too late’ !

Grassroots - of course - but the United Nations could also finally step in in a big BIG way.

“Should Trees Have Standing” was written by legal scholar Christopher Stone in 1972 - almost fifty years ago. That is obviously the gestation period for the birth of a new idea, or is it an old idea cast in modern terms.

The indigenous peoples of the world learned the hard way, and ended up, many of them, ‘respecting’ nature in all its manifestations. Was this not ‘rights for nature with human guardians’ a long tome ago ?

We are separated from those foraging times, according to Yuval Harari, author of “Sapiens” by both the ‘Agricultural Revolution’ & the ‘Industrial Revolution’, and there appears to be no going back as we approach eight billions human beings on the planet.

Perhaps we are in need, finally, of another revolution in thinking.


Listening and speaking to and honoring life should be the bottom line. I hear that in what you are saying and I agree.

I especially appreciate that you mentioned “think about each thing that you do.”

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Pity there are only seven comments webwalk. That’s the problem right now, isn’t it - the big disconnect !