I have struggled for the last two weeks to find the words I felt could heal or help this incredibly charged time. I have been sitting here, in fact, quietly for about an hour staring at this blank screen not totally sure where to go. As a white woman, I have benefited from countless privileges that have made the difficult journey of life less shocking and have made my goals and aspirations more attainable. I was taught history from a white perspective and I moved through the world with this conditioning. The American-Capitalist-Economic framework granted me access to certain luxuries and experiences and closed doors on me at other times, depending on my wavering social status. The most offensive attributes I seemed to carry with me through my adventures in this white dominated, patriarchal society were my unusual and unshakable love for people and nature and, of course, my vagina.
Unfortunately, there are no places to put a bleeding heart in a society built on exploitation. This country and several others around the globe were not only built upon stolen land, but with the enforced labor and murder of human beings. While time has taught our overall awareness a thing or two and the word “slavery” has been removed from our everyday vocabulary, our society still functions off of a very similar principle. In order to obtain the absurd profits that the most affluent members of our world have come accustomed to, our entire social order must be based on the domination and manipulation of the poor and disenfranchised. Black and brown people, indigenous cultures and immigrants have been used; their integrity and ownership over this life and their own well being have been challenged in an attempt to keep the mechanism of economy and power stabilized for those who sit on top. Our political structures, law enforcement, and military have been conditioned to fear and control; to keep the “peace” by committing violence against individuals who struggle to get through their day to day.
Terrence Mckenna said it best, “The ideas of Capitalism and Democracy are at complete odds. Democracy tells us that everyone has value; Capitalism tells us that some people are worth more than others.” This contradiction is as evident now as it has always been. I can only express how destructive this culture of exploitation is in the only real language I know; land. We have been lead to believe that even in the world of nature, the rule is “Survival of the Fittest.” That those who are destined to succeed must do so at the expense of whatever may exist around them. If you truly pay attention to natural communities, you see a different picture. The most successful organisms in an ecosystem are those that are able to adapt in harmony with the most living communities. Balance is brought about through biodiversity; through countless communities of organisms seeking out nourishing relationships with other beings in conditions that not only encourage beings to live, but to thrive.
Individuals in America and other nations that hold privilege, that do not have to fear from one moment to the next for the safety of their family or friends have unknowingly sacrificed their own freedoms for what feels like security. As we continue to outsource our own power and responsibility to the continued militarization of our world, we all lose the tools we need in our communities to thrive. The words continue to morph but the “exponential” reality remains the same. The culture of exploitation that is responsible for the bottleneck extinction of plants and animals, ecosystems and wild-lands is the same mechanism that brings brutality into our neighborhoods and keeps us separated and powerless.
At this incredibly dire time in the Earth’s history, it is imperative that we recognize the personal power and responsibility we all have to bring harmony back into this world. To see and value the beauty in all people, to receive wisdom and nourishment from someone who has walked a different path than our own and to protect their invaluable contribution to our human family is essential in changing the dynamics that are destroying this planet. As a white and or privileged person, we can no longer wear blinders in hopes that we will be safe from the unfolding of history. The Earth is our mirror. The way we continue to lose viability in our landscapes is reflected in the loss of vitality in our human communities. Plant more trees yes, but also stand in harmony with as many races, genders, sexualities, and life experiences as possible in hopes that we may all thrive.