I deeply appreciate your effort to craft this beautiful statement that reflects our love and reverence for all life and a need for ethical response to the great harms. I’m happy to see Pagandom beginning to stir toward taking action to protect life. I know it may be challenging to integrate my comments at this late date but what the heck, I’m adding my voice.
1. The use of possessive language (“our”) when referring to water, land, or other parts of (or the whole of) earth confuses the important message that we are part of the earth community. The waters, land and planet are not ours (pagan’s or humanity’s). The use of “our” comes off as very white. The word could set off unintentional red flags for some indigenous people and possibly some people of color. It’s important to remember that we live on colonized land. Most of the instances can be cleared up with a simple switch from “our” to “the” (paragraph 1 – sentence 2 & last sentence; paragraph 7 – sentence 6, next to last paragraph – sentence 2; last paragraph – sentences 2 & 4).
2. By calling nature/life “the environment”, the title supports the story of separation between humanity and nature. The statement is more about our relationship with the web of life. I suggest changing the title to “A Pagan Community Statement on Our Relationship (with Life, the Web of Life, the Living Earth).
3. The statement is inspiring and I’m sure people will sign on to work for change as individuals. A way to make this statement not just an act of individual intention but a greater act of power is to also make it a call to collective action. Make it a call to all Pagans and all people to rise to this historic moment to protect life and all our relationships. Ask them to gather and collaborate with others in their communities. It would not be the first time in history that Pagans, Witches and others who study the mysteries have gathered when the threat is existential. In that case, you could add “and a Call to Action” to the title.
4. Name capitalism at least if not also colonialism, imperialism, and importantly, racism. We know names have power. Don’t just beat around the bush. Whack it!
6. The repetitive use of the word “sustainable” (or some form of it) feels heavy. The word has been co-opted by green capitalism. It confuses the statement’s message. Other words that could be used in some places include just, equitable, viable, and living. One specific instance I’d consider replacing is in the last sentence of the 2nd paragraph: “Therefore, we affirm the necessity of living in just and enduring relationship with all nature/the family of life.”
7. Paragraph 2, sentence 3: “living things”. If all life is family, saying “beings” instead of “things” would be more consistent with the respect and reverence we promote throughout the statement.
8. Overall, the statement lacks urgency. The multiple disruptions of the ecosystem threaten all with extinction! We should urge immediate collective response from the Pagan community and all people.
Thanks for the opportunity to give feedback!Reply
Overall, this is a great and thorough statement. I do have one concern, at the very beginning: many indigenous people (as well as others such as Hindus) would take offense at the claim that Paganism “include(s) the ancestral religions of all of humanity.” These traditions have their own creation stories and do not necessarily accept the idea that Paganism can claim their earliest roots.
Nor is the current sentence a claim that can actually be verified by any means. We may have opinions about what the “Venus” figurines mean or the cave paintings meant, but they are only opinions. They can never been confirmed.
I suggest a change to “Paganism is a family of spiritual paths rooted in ancestral religions throughout the world and predating recorded history.”
You voiced my thoughts exactly Mark
Mark, your suggestion has been adopted. Thank you!
If this is intended to distribution and publication, it wouldn’t do to cite sources of recent and valid information to bolster the scientific claims made above.
Dayan, thanks for your comment. We did consider providing links, but elected to omit them.
“and as we separate ourselves from nature, we see that we diminish our compassion for ourselves and for others.”
Since we cannot truly separate ourselves from Nature, perhaps it should be rephrased to say, “as we live as if we are separate from nature…”
“that the Earth is itself a living organism… ” – remains disputable.
“…showing that we don’t live “on Earth” like some alien visitor, but rather that we are Earth, just as a volcano or river is part of Earth and her cycles.”, “We are the Earth, the Earth is us.” – we are certainly of the Earth, but are not the Earth itself. If a ball of every human were to be in space orbiting the sun it wouldn’t be the Earth. And if the planet were to be suddenly without humans, it would remain the Earth.
Other than that it looks great.
I really enjoy reading the comments. It shows a depth of thought and consideration for what we mean. I completely agree with Rua Lupa, but in my first readig of the article skimmed over the sentence “and as we separate ourselves from nature, we see that we diminish our compassion for ourselves and for others.” I agree that “as we live as if we are separate from nature…” is a more fitting statement, and I hope the comments remain so that others can see things they might have overlooked, not realised, and to see how much we’ve thought about this.
Astrid, thanks. We made the suggested change. And yes, we will leave the comments, although they will be on a separate page from the final document.
Rua, your suggestions have been adopted. Thank you!
In order to do this declaration more universal, why not to share this draft statement with with other pagan communities located in Latin america, Europe or other areas in their mother language?
Excellent idea Arturo. We are discussing how to implement your suggestion.
If I can to help, please let me know
I would also change “both male and female deities” to “deities of all genders” because there are far more genders than just male and female, especially among noncorporeal beings.
Yes! Thank you for this comment.
Dammit. I wish I had caught this one. Well done, Rook. Thank you.
Rook, your suggestion has been adopted. Thank you!
The above draft, in my opinion, is very well written; I believe we all agree that education in a consistent, non-threatening fashion is really the only way to explain to our communities what we are all about and to lessen fears that people may have through preconceived notions from what the church and Hollyweird have instilled in them.
With the revisions mentioned above, I feel that the draft is very good. Well done committee.
I think the “nature as sacred” language may cause difficulties for some Heathens who do not necessarily share that view, but do emphasize a sense of kinship with nature – and that should not be seen as a less powerful statement, given that tribe and kinship are often seen as the fundamental Heathen value. You already capture a sense of this where you talk about our connections to family and the tree of life. Possibly it would be worth rephrasing the earlier statement along the lines of “all Pagans value life and nature, which may be respected as sacred or as our close and honoured kin”, and replacing the “Nature is sacred” heading with “We honour Nature”?
Similarly, I think it is misleading to include “nature-worshipping” in the definition of paganism without explaining that this applies to many, but not all traditions. The further you go towards the polytheist end of the spectrum, the more likely it is that people’s practises will be directed to individual spirits – local landwights and such – rather than an overarching “Mother Nature” or anything of that type. Both lead to the kind of ecological behaviours you want to promote, but they get there in different ways.
Eilidh, can you educate me a little about why some Heathens might not consider nature to be “sacred”? And what the difference is, as you see it, between “nature as sacred” and “nature as kin”?
Do you think those Heathens who do not consider nature sacred typically would consider themselves “Pagan”?
Leaving aside the global warming bit (something I really don’t want to argue again here), I think we need to be less selective about our environmental impact.
There’s a major drought in the American Southwest, caused in part by heavily subsidized water and electrical power.
There’s a major waste problem, we have landfills full of junk that won’t break down for centuries. Often it poisons the surrounding land and water.
Industrial chemicals from manufacturing and factory farming fundamentally change the environment in not-so-nice ways.
Add the fact that many global warming “solutions” have a devastating environmental impact (CFL bulbs nearly requiring a HazMat team, wind farms slaughtering birds, ethanol being MUCH harder to store and transport), and I think it’s a mistake to focus on climate change.
Climate change is the single most important moral issue of our times. We cannot possibly ignore it and say something meaningful about the environment. Pagans are in a position to make a significant contribution here, as we understand the power of myth, ritual, narrative and sacred theatre. We can use these tools to help change the discussion in the political environment so that genuine solutions like the elimination of fossil fuels become feasible.
I think the statement, incorporating a few of the suggested rewordings, is an excellent one. Thanks to all who worked on it.
I’d just like to point out that most of the suggested edits seem excellent and once incorporated I think the over all statement is fairly precise and accurate generally speaking of course, since there are so many divergent groups that fall under the larger umbrella of “pagan”.
I also thought, regarding the terminology of “pagan” as pointed out by Mark Green in his comment that perhaps it might be important to include the dictionary definition of a pagan; that being those living in the countryside. That ought to clarify why all such traditions can be traced back to pagan roots and origins, hopefully.
Secondly, Rua Lupa mentions … “that the Earth is itself a living organism… ” – remains disputable. In fact, the Gaia Theory is and has been considered a proven theory for at least two decades now and is generally accepted among scientists that are not on the payroll of some multi-national corporation but instead conduct independent research. But more importantly is the fact that just about everything within this document could be considered debatable; the only variable being whom and what belief system they may happen to hold and wish to promote in accordance with whatever agenda they might have in mind. Therefore, though I do think the argument is true, I don’t think that editing it out would serve any purpose but to display a weaker stance on the issues that the document is attempting to address.
“Margulis dedicated the last of eight chapters in her book, The Symbiotic Planet, to Gaia. However, she objected to the widespread personification of Gaia and stressed that Gaia is “not an organism”, but “an emergent property of interaction among organisms”. She defined Gaia as “the series of interacting ecosystems that compose a single huge ecosystem at the Earth’s surface. Period”. The book’s most memorable “slogan” was actually quipped by a student of Margulis’: “Gaia is just symbiosis as seen from space”.”
Its a scientific theory, not a Law.
“As additional scientific evidence is gathered, a scientific theory may be rejected or modified if it does not fit the new empirical findings- in such circumstances, a more accurate theory is then desired and free of confirmation bias.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory
This is a post-literate document that pretends to precisely and accurately define *our* pre-literate understanding of the environment. It attempts to rigidly codify the beliefs of a diverse group of individuals who perceive the universe in radically different ways. May I suggest that such a document is unnecessary, useless and perhaps a bit pretentious.
This statement, while broad, doesn’t appear to me to be attempting to speak for our long-ago forebears–or even for all contemporary Pagans. But I think it’s wise that the description specifies that it represents only the positions of those actually signing it. Personally, I think it isuseful and well expressed.
Valerie, thank you. We are considering changes to make that more clear.
Nicely done! Just an idea: what about “We are in the Earth, and the Earth is in us?” The parallel sentence structure makes it a bit more poetic than the revised “part of” phrasing, while still avoiding the truth conditional problems of the “We are the Earth” phrasing. It’s minor thing, but this sentence seems to embody the heart of the document.
Thanks Anna. There is an ongoing discussion of how to resolve this difficult phrasing. This process really highlights how our language (and its limitations) has been framing the environmental discussion.
I’m sorry if this is harsh, but the complete and utter omission of the word ‘capitalism’ in regards to the primary reason as to why the planet is in decline is painful. Really painful. It strikes me as the ultimate in cognitive dissonance, and I’ll be honest in that the first thing I thought of was COG’s statement on Ferguson where they couldn’t being themselves to actually acknowledge racism or use the word ‘Black”. This statement talks around the elephant in the room, and it refuses to name it.
I also wince at the stressing of ‘sustainability’ as the path out of this. Sustainability is BS, sorry. ‘Green capitalism’, ‘conscious consumerism’, all these things are tricks, traps, things to make us feel good and further distract us from the harm that we’re doing. Recycling, PV cells, eco-bulbs, these things harm much more than they help. Do the research. I find such assumptions to be dangerous, frankly. We don’t need a “change in spirit”. This is not on ‘us’. The vast majority of damage to the planet is done by megacorporations or state power, not individuals. If you don’t set your gaze on them, you can try to change people’s spirits all you want but we will still be doomed.
What is being described is actually a radical change. Just because the word sustainable is often misused and misapplied doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have an actual useful meaning.
I’d disagree. Sustainability is precisely what BP, the Keystone XL pipeline, and Greenwashed environmentalism are all about. The Environmental Defense Fund, for instance, advocates for more use of natural gas–including fracking–to bring us into a ‘sustainable’ future.
Naomi Klein’s take on sustainability in This Changes Everything is rather succinct. Mostly, we’re trying to sustain Capitalism by making it more eco-friendly, ignoring the fact that Capitalism is the core of why we’re destroying the earth.
I agree that it theoretically has a useful meaning, but that meaning has been co-opted by green capitalism. The ‘sustainability’ that’s referenced in this environmental statement is not the radical kind. Its the corporate kind. If recycling and green energy are being put forth as the answers, I want nothing to do with it. The phrase “energy-efficient sustainable economy” does it in for me.
Alley, can you suggest a paragraph that we can add to address this? I understand that your criticism is broader and deeper than can be addressed by just adding another paragraph, but I would like to include some language addressing capitalism.
We cannot buy our way out of this mess. Capitalism can’t sell us the solutions to the problems it creates, because inherent in those ‘solutions’ are the same forces of resource extraction and global exploitation that those ‘solutions’ are supposed to remedy in the first place. The same corporations that profit off of plundering the planet have convinced you that the answer lies in ‘green energy’ and ‘conscious consumerism’, but these are not true solutions. These ‘solutions’ amount to what Christopher Scott Thompson said earlier – its driving towards a brick wall and thinking that slowing to 65 instead of driving at 100 is going to save you. Such solutions also completely ignore the fact that most of the environmental devastation that we’re dealing with was caused by corporations, not individuals. ‘Sustainability’ sells the idea that ‘its up to us to save the Earth’ and that by using cloth bags and buying fair trade coffee we are ‘doing our part’. Pagans need to start critically analyzing the systems that bring us things like fair trade coffee (or another one of my favorites, TOMS shoes…) and start to shine a light on how and why these ‘remedies’ are not only ineffective, but also sometimes even more damaging to both people and planet than what we were doing before.
Thank you for doing so much work on this. Some of the language is quite beautiful!
I agree with Alley Valkyrie, however. This does not represent an accurate understanding of the role industrialized modes of Capitalist production play in environmental destruction, and I fear focusing on sustainability opens the statement to perceived support of so-called Green Capitalism.
Likewise, the inclusion of a statement regarding population is dangerous. After Malthus, much of the focus on societal problems, particularly distribution of resources and environmental damage, has been on population. There are many, many, many times more poor people than there are rich, yet the rich emit the most carbon dioxide and own the most land. Still, movements to reduce population consistently focus on the poor rather than the rich, and it is noticeable that the vast majority of the world’s poor are non-white.
Thanks Rhyd. I wish you had stayed involved in the group for precisely this reason. I will raise both the criticism of capitalism and the problematic language regarding overpopulation with the group.
It would be helpful if you and/or Alley might suggest some language addressing the role of capitalism in this and the limits of the sustainability approach.
Right off the bat, this sentence: “Humanity’s actions are radically altering the web of life of which we are a component, threatening the lives of many species, Homo sapiens included.”
Its not the actions of ‘humanity’ that are doing this, its industrial capitalism. The vast majority of planetary damage is done by and in the name of corporate profit. This sentence makes it sound like this is something that we’re all doing as individuals, and while there’s truth in that to an extent, part of ‘greenwashing’ is convincing the average citizen that the bulk of the blame (and therefore responsibility) is on THEM, not the corporations that are actually polluting the planet. (This is what I call the ‘shorter showers fallacy’ – the idea that personal conservation will get us out of this mess.) If anything, what’s left of ‘humanity’ in the other sense of word is fighting against this tide. Most of us that have a shred of humanity about us see the problem, and are not profiting from it.
I wholeheartedly agree with Rhyd that the language around population is extremely problematic and should really be removed altogether. Population control’ is never focused on the likes of the Duggar family, instead its always about poor women in undeveloped countries.
As for sustainability, I see the term ‘sustainability’ as having been co-opted by green capitalism the same way that ‘family’ was co-opted by the ‘Religious Right’. More than anything else, its an image and a value system that’s being marketed and sold to us by the same corporations that are pillaging the Earth. Phrases like “culture of sustainability” really leave a bad taste in my mouth. That’s what people already think they’re doing, and its a dead end to extinction. What we need to do is radically alter the very basics of our society, our economic system. If you need to talk about non-corporate sustainability, find another word for it. That word is poisoned.
If there’s anything we need to alter as far as ‘spirit’ is concerned, its our conceptions of ‘privileges’ and ‘entitlements’ and ‘expectations’ as it pertains to the way we live on this planet. Our comfort is at the expense of everyone else’s suffering, and we need to give up some of that comfort, period. I don’t see any of that in this statement. We need to be deeply critiquing the way that we live at every intersection, both physical and metaphorical.
I also agree with others that the underlying vibe around Pagan moral superiority does not serve any useful purpose here. That’s where the earlier days of ecofeminism arguably went wrong, by stressing and prioritizing how women were the chosen special ones who had the power to get us out of this mess because woman is Goddess and all those connections between nature and femininity, yadda yadda yadda. That approach and attitude alienated both men and trans women, as well as those who didn’t identify with the Goddess movement. It created weird divisions within affinity groups, and it wasn’t until the movement dumped the essentialism and embraced a more Marxist approach to the connections between women and nature that they were able to work with others on a wider level and find common ground. I would hate to see you make the same mistake here.
Alley, thanks for your comments. They are being actively discussed in the group. It would be very helpful if you could suggest a word or phrase other than “sustainable” that means collectively living within the carrying capacity of our planet and all that entails, without implying we can shop our way out of the problem.
Alley, as far as the population issue goes, I do think it is important to focus on “poor women in undeveloped countries” in this context where we’re talking about equal access to education and jobs and easy access to birth control. These are things that women everywhere, but especially in underdeveloped countries, need.
I agree that poor women in developing countries need access to birth control. That is an issue of choice and equality and sovereignty, not “population control”. I think you’re conflating two issues here. One can advocate for equal rights and access to birth control and education without making an argument for population control.
Alley, thanks for your suggestions. We have added language to distinguish true sustainability from the kind of sustainability you have criticized here.
“Economic systems such as Capitalism which encourage the destruction of the environment and the exploitation of the poor in favor of profit must be dismantled, particularly as it is the global poor who suffer most from–and have contributed the least to–Climate Change. ”
And regards to population control, extensive language would have to be added in order to take it out of the realm of potential racialist politics–I suggest it be removed.
This also sticks out as well-meaning but flawed: “Above all, we must recognize that the challenge before us is not technical but political.”
Actually, the challenge before us is extremely technical. We don’t yet know how to keep eight billion people alive without using up what little resources we have left, nor do we even know if we can do so at all. We need to radically reimagine society. That’s both a technical and a political process.
Thanks, Alley, your suggestion has been adopted.
I understand the difficulty in trying to write something everyone can agree with, and perhaps for that reason a statement like this can only be of limited use in the best of circumstances. Still, I have to agree with Rhyd and Alley. Trying to create a “sustainable” version of the current system is a self-destructive fantasy, encouraging people to make feel-good changes in their own lives rather than facing and fighting the actual problem. If you’re racing toward a brick wall at 100 mph, the solution is not to slow down to 65.
Thanks Christopher. We’ve added some additional language to distinguish true sustainability from what you are describing.
I think this really needs to be gone through and had redundant text remove to make it more readable.
Under Nature is sacred: I think “Humanity and the planet included” can be removed -the previous clause already includes humanity and the planet under living things.
Under “We are Part of a Web of Life”. “The ancient realizations of many of our ancestors, that the Earth is itself a living organism and that all life on Earth is interconnected, have been supported now by the scientific method and our expanding knowledge of the universe.” – this sentence has a lot going on and could be simplified or broken into a few different sentences for easier reading.
Under What we Can Do
“renewable development and culture wherein all products are intended for longevity, repairability, and at the end of its use ease of dismantlement to either compost or recycle its parts” – the last bit seems awkward – perhaps “and easy dismantling or recycling at the end of their use.” Also, the tenses are off – you use the plural of products at the beginning of the sentence, and use singular in the end.
“We must be clear about our agenda, which includes promoting sustainability, distributing resources in a more just and humane fashion, ensuring that our human populations are below the carrying capacity of our planet with voluntary approaches to birth control and equal access to education and work for women.” – needs an “and” between fashion and ensuring, as that is the last clause in the list. Once again the last bit seems a bit awkward, maybe because it is so long compare to the previous things in the list. Maybe it could be shortened up?
“Pagans can aid in the repair of our environment with our teachings of how we are part of life on Earth, with rituals and ceremonies that foster a bond between ourselves and the rest of the web of life, and instill responsible behavior in how we should interact within our ecosystem — all this creating a culture that can sustain our human society today and for generations to come.” – at “instill” this all falls apart. If you follow the sentence logically, it ends upsaying “Pagans can aid in the repair of our environment with instill responsible behaviour.” It should perhaps read “by instilling”.
“Fundamentally, we believe that a change in spirit is required, one that fosters a change in how humanity relates to itself and to other species as part of the Earth as a whole “ – uses change twice, seems a little awkward but I’m not sure how to fix without rewriting the whole thing. Perhaps, “Fundamentally, a change in spirit is required to foster a new direction…” or something like that.
Overall, there’s a lot of “we will do blank, and blank, and blank…” lists, usually in threes, as if it started as a simple sentence and had things tacked on at the end – I think this is also why some of the phrases seem to not make sense. A little bit of editing and creative re-writing, with an eye towards readability, would make this a bit more accessible to your average person. Complex, multi-clause sentences are the norm throughout, impeding quick reading. Consider that a lot of people are going to spend about 30 seconds skimming or reading this, rather than 5 or 10 minutes.
And honestly, the entire tone of the document is one of moral superiority over non-pagans. It’s continually hammered home that Pagans are specially equipped to be in harmony with nature. Is this a document for the pagan community, as a kind of call to arms and pat on the back? Or is it a statement meant to sway others to your point of view? As someone from outside the pagan community – someone you may be trying to reach – I felt talked down to the entire time. Not exactly conducive to inter-faith relations.
Jake, thank you for the detailed suggestions. Many of them have been or are being implemented.
I wish I had more to add, but others have said it so well, it would be superfluous for me to try to say it better. But I agree with the concerns Alley, Rhyd, and Christopher voiced, because sustainability, as it currently stands, isn’t what this treatise is calling for.
Jake also has a very valid point. If this is a statement from the greater Pagan community to the world-at-large and our governments, then the repeated statements that Pagans are the answer to all our troubles have to go. Stating that our faiths are the reason we feel so strongly about the environment stand. This statement in particular was off-putting for me, and I’ve been a Pagan for nearly 16 years – “As Pagans, we believe we are uniquely situated to imagine and create a future in which humanity lives in greater harmony with the rest of our planet.”
We, Pagans, aren’t the only ones who can better our environment, we aren’t the only ones arriving to, and we aren’t the only religion that believes we must tend our world. And language like that builds walks between ourselves and our allies from other faiths (or none).
Lea, thank you for your comment. We have made changes in light of the issues you raised.
This is a great start. Thank you for all your work so far. I do have some concerns.
This statement leaves the impression that it is simply due to over population that we are losing rain forest, the lungs of the planet.
“Habitat loss continues as the population grows, and deforestation alone destroys as much forest area as France every six years.”
The earth is experiencing deforestation, water pollution, air pollution, and earth pollution directly as a result of capitalism and the growing culture of consumerism. It is not due to over population. The earth is entirely capable of feeding and sustaining a growing population. It is not capable of sustaining the current rate of consumerism and capitalism.
I agree with Rhyd and Alley that we must include a denunciation of capitalism as a sustainable system. It is what drives consumerism which is what drives a disregard for natural resources. I do hope they can help craft a paragraph that denounces the way corporations and governments have adopted such language to ‘con’ us into believing continuing on our same path is at all sustainable. It is not.
Jake made some especially great edit suggestions I hope are adopted, as well.
Linda, thank you. A change has been in light of your comment.
Oh Alley, Alley, Alley, Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou! Such Clarity! Bravo! I’m speechless.
Greetings! Thanks for asking me to sign this.
My opinion for the draft is that it should include comprehensive support for non animal-based agriculture, as multiple reports throughout the years have confirmed that factory farming one of the top contributors to environmental pollution and air toxicity. I would only feel confident signing a statement that declares firm support for a fully plant-based lifestyle in terms of food consumption, at the least. If we are to ignore that animals raised for food is the most wasteful and devastating hit on the environment, then we would be better off sticking to our usual prayers and leaving it at that.
For those unfamiliar- I would start by suggesting the reading of the UN report on this which is titled “Livestock’s Long Shadow.”
Thanks for considering!
David, thank you for your comment. I anticipate that some people will feel that the statement is either too specific or not specific enough. Inclusion of every aspect of the environmental catastrophe which is happening would be beyond the scope of any statement like this. I hope that you can support the more broad language of the statement in light of this.
Thanks for responding, John. It seems that adding “support for plant-based eating habits” would fit nicely in this area about specifically what we can do, especially since adopting this change personally is one of the biggest impact’s any individual can have on the environment:
“We must be clear about our agenda, which includes promoting sustainability, distributing resources in a more just and humane fashion, and ensuring that our human populations are below the carrying capacity of our planet through easy access to voluntary birth control and equal access to education and work for women.”
David, we have included language to that effect in the section you suggested. I hope you find it satisfactory.
It should be clarified here that it is *not* eating meat which is causing damage, but the aforementioned factory farming. Livestock practices around the world demonstrate that it is possible to raise and eat meat in non-damaging ways, so vegetarianism is not the answer worldwide, nor is it ethical for those mountain-dwelling communities who are unable to grow grains and legumes where they live, but can eat and drink the dairy products and meat provided by the livestock kept which can graze on the plants growing in those regions. We cannot infer a plant-based lifestyle is the right way to live for all peoples.
Erin, thank you. As you point out, this is a complex issue. We hope that the language we have included regarding reforming our food systems encompasses your concerns.
Nice work and I applaud all the time and effort involved. My comments are all from within the “what can we do” section.
Paragraph 1’s statement that the Earth is able to heal itself is only true to some degree. Like any living thing, healing is not complete and scars remain even when the healing process is completed. While I am not opposed to the statement, I do think the statement should include something about not doing further dMage lest we reach a point of no return.
Paragraph 2 – it would be nice to include each family between individual and community
Paragraph 4- really just a semantics question – does the equal access to education refer to all underrepresented groups or just women?
Paragraph 6 – how about calling it a sustainable future?
Finally, throughout the document there are references to earth and Earth. It should be consistent and I would prefer the capitalized version except in the one or two places where earth was used in reference to ground or soil.
Thanks for the opportunity to review and comment.
Ross, thank you for your detailed suggestions. I have passed them along to the group. I was confused about what the change you were suggesting for part 6 though. (Thanks for catching that lower cased “earth”. I thought we got them all, but we missed one. FYI, there is one other place where we do use the lower case to refer to the soil.)
I am happy to see all the changes. The statement is more clear about what we are trying to say.
However, I still see some use of the word sustainable where another might be more appropriate. For example, in the second paragraph the ending statement, “Therefore, we affirm the necessity of living sustainably as part of nature.” could be written, “Therefore, we affirm the necessity of living in harmony with nature.”
In the “What We Can Do” section, I like the quotation marks around “sustain” in the fourth paragraph to illustrate that we are not talking about how sustain is currently used. I wish that we could change what we are promoting to some form of harmony so we are not using the same word that corporations use who are doing nothing but profiting off “sustainability”. For example, change, “We must be clear about our agenda, which includes promoting sustainability,” to, “We must be clear about our agenda, which includes promoting the ability to live in harmony with nature,” or something similar.
The next paragraph we use this language again. For example, “all this creating a culture that can sustain our human society today and for generations to come.” Lets highlight what we really want, “all this creating a culture that will enable our human society to thrive today and for generations to come.”
Thanks for your consideration. Good job to all. This is difficult to please everyone!
Linda, thank you. We discussed this at length and are continuing to do so.
“Cutting down a rain forest is no different THAN…”
“…different FROM”, PLEASE! (I was an editor for too many years to be comfortable with the incorrect usage.)
Thanks Valerie. I have passed this along to the grammar lovers in the group for consideration.
Habitat loss is mentioned, but what specific is lost? A lot of people including pagans think the some of the exotic/alien plant species that are grown locally are a part of the environment, yet are not. Oak trees require sunlight to regenerate, yet the understory of a oak woodland is choked with non-native brush and trees. Old oak trees die and non are there to replace them. Phragmites are taking over our wetlands, reed canary grass is taking over floodplains; fescue, foxtail is taking over prairies. What are we doing?
I would like to see something which includes, “We embrace/include athiests, humanists and naturalists who connect with Mother Earth through science”.
Artemis, thank you for your comment. Similar language was considered.
I just stumbled onto this site this morning and am thrilled beyond measure to find it.
I love the shared effort to get the wording and content of this document as close to “truth as is possible.
I will be following hence forth.
Thank Goddess for the internet!
Thank you, Valerie. My question is “Is it possible to formulate a statement that all, or a significant number of, Pagans could sign without compromise?” and I doubt it. Why do “we” need it? If each of us is ecologically concerned and do what we can to live by, and promote, ecologically-aware living, surely we’ll cover the whole field mitoudt shstanding at attention undt marching in lockschstep.
Ted, I believe that, despite our diversity, we Pagans need to find ways to speak with harmonious voices on critical issues of the day, like climate change. When we don’t then the meaning of our individual actions is often lost in the cacaphony of our diverse voices. This limits the impact of our actions, which should be both practical and symbolic — the latter sometimes being more important because symbolic action can inspire others to action as well.
The word “harmonious” is used deliberately here. Speaking “in harmony” with each other does not necessitate us all being of one mind or agreeing on every point (or marching in “lockstep”). We Pagans often speak of attuning ourselves to nature and the cycles of the Earth. We should also be able to “attune” to one another, temporarily setting aside our egos and prioritizing our individual disagreements, when a collective voice is urgently needed to effect change, as it is now. If there is any issue on which we Pagans should be able to speak harmoniously, it is on the issue of the desecration of the environment. I we cannot come together to add our collective voice to those already raised in opposing the wholesale destruction of everything that makes this planet habitable, then I think we must ask ourselves by what right do we call ourselves “Pagans”, the “people of the land”?
I am in support of this document and greatly appreciate the effort of so many to get the wording to where the message is truly understood. I agree with Linda Slack especially regarding the replacement of the idea of sustainable living with living in harmony. Also, the tone of “moral superiority” that Jake refers to sounds a little separatist to me, which seems to be contradictory to the message.
this is a great site and statement one it is endorsed n earth day 22nd April i would like to adopt the principles into our key projects at
Westquarter Glen Falkirk https://www.facebook.com/LBWP2015
& Callendar Woods
I suggest that this should be replaced:
“Habitat loss continues as consumption increases, and deforestation alone destroys an area of forest the size of France every six years.” for three reasons. First, because it is actually misleading. France is listed as having 640 thousand square km, but that includes all of their overseas departments as well, but it does not include their claims to a slice of Antartica. Second, by making it a fraction whose denominator is “six years” requires the reader to visualize the land area of france, and then divid that into six equal parts in order to appreciate what happens in a one year time frame. Third, it is Eurocentric. White Americans and Europeans with a particular interest in France for other reasons would have a better understanding of the land size of france, and so it would would make a better yard stick for them, but the same might not be said for those of African or Asian descent (for example).
To make it clearer and not require abstract visualization, I would like to replace it with:
“Habitat loss continues as consumption increases. Deforestation alone destroys some 150 thousand square kilometers each year, the size of Japan — equivalent to 24 soccer fields every minute.” (WWF numbers)
Bill, thanks. Your suggestion has been adopted.
This is an interesting idea, and I’m wondering what the intended audience and purpose are for this document.
I would suggest striking the phrase “nature worship.” This is a term generated by Victorian-era scholars and anthropologists studying “foreign” cultures and peoples whom they’d felt were socially inferior to their Enlightenment-era, WASP-as-human-pinnacle, linear construct of human development. The term was meant to confer a sense of simple-mindedness upon the peoples said to engage in this, who needed to be educated to better understand the clearly-superior Protestant Christian, Cartesian worldview. And it was upon this WASP worldview that industrial capitalism was birthed, which is at the root of our current environmental crisis (thank you, Alley!).
Further, the term, according to animist societies to whom the phrase was meant to apply, does not accurately describe their worldviews. What they do is engage with non-human beings as fellow persons, and nations of other-than-human persons, who have societies, languages, agendas, worldviews, and religions of their own, with whom they engage in the places where they live. Those deemed most important are those other-than-human persons upon whom much life and its support depend, which could be universal persons like Sun and Earth, or place-specific persons like Salmon or Buffalo or Corn. The proper etiquette of engagement then, is to form kinship bonds of mutually respectful and responsible relationship. These are not ‘worship’ relationships as understood in western religions which use this term. These persons might not even be considered ‘gods’ by those human persons who engage with them, as the term is understood by our western religions which use that word.
This, then, likely represents the animistic worldviews of our ancestors, which we pagans claim to be reviving/emulating/engaging with. I am concerned we may have missed the mark due to lack of resources to better impart and understand this worldview, but even as we continue to learn and grow, the phrase ‘nature-worship’ needs to be discarded for the racialist worldview it was designed to convey.
Thanks for your time and consideration.
Thanks Erin. We have removed the phrase “nature worship”.
I’m sorry to see the backpedaling on overpopulation. If we are non-human centered and truly are concerned with survival of other species and the habitats necessary for them to flourish, then we’ve got to take it seriously. A world where every arable acre is cultivated is not a healthy world. Destruction is destruction whether done by palm oil plantations for the consumer marker or by subsistence farmers trying to find the last forage for their livestock on an over-populated planet.
Also might label the”global systems of exploitation” capitalist as that is the only industrial-growth system standing (I remember learning that naming is a basic tool of magic a long time ago).
Otherwise, a good effort.
I think this is lovely. The only thing I don’t like is the use of the word ‘clergy’ in the final paragraph. Not all pagan traditions have ‘clergy’ and to me it sounds too like Christianity. Also the sentence sounds quite hierachical, which not all pagan groups are. Can we just say ‘all members’ and leave it at that? x