Newsletter no. 5
Who Are We?
June 29, 2022
On Thursday, June 23, we put on a program about what we are that – thanks to Charles Betterton – was part of World Unity Week.

This was a great opportunity to cooperate with other organizations toward what we call an ecological civilization. World Unity Week is an example of what can be done when many groups committed to moving from competition to cooperation work together. Inspired by that and enriched by my memories, I’ll try a brief statement of who we are and what contribution we can make to the larger efforts.

The Living Earth Movement is a group of people who all have primary commitments to other efforts and organizations but find it worthwhile to meet regularly to discuss our shared concerns and what to do about them. We are all deeply concerned with the deterioration of the planet that is our magnificent and beautiful home. We all recognize that we live in a unique and radical crisis – at a time when global leadership is in the hands of those who have other priorities and are allowing the Earth to die. We all believe that much can be done toward restoring the planet to health, and we all feel some responsibility to push in this direction.

In fact, individually, we are all engaged in quite diverse activities that seem to us to be contributing to the needed change. Through our conversations, we have come to feel mutually supportive and in some cases to actually contribute to each other’s programs. We have also had events and participated in activities we, as a group, have organized to spread the word. We can be proud of what we have done, but we have also failed and frustrated one another at times. Sometimes, I think it remarkable that in spite of our differences, we have stayed together.

It happens that all of us are happy to join with others who name their positive goal as “ecological civilization.” One of us (David Korten) has written a paper that beautifully and accurately summarizes the meaning of this concept and introduces it to those not familiar with it.
Sometimes people will work together simply out of fear.
It is our conviction that there is a better chance of mobilizing people around a hopeful, comprehensive, vision.
We managed for some time without a name. When it became necessary, we chose one that points in a somewhat different direction from what we had been doing. Perhaps our own unity in diversity has led us to hope for a movement in which a vast diversity of people and organizations could agree about the priority that people, organizations, and nations should give to the healing of the Earth. We think that only a massive “movement” can have an effect on the policies and practices of the nations that control our destiny. We have for our own purposes used “ecological civilization” to name what we hope for, but others have, with equal justification, used other language.
What term could capture the breadth and depth of the goal to which we are convinced tens of millions of us are personally committed?
We decided that the movement we want to promote might be called the
“Living Earth Movement.”
Somewhat awkwardly, we took that name. Obviously, the little group of concerned individuals who meet on Thursday afternoons is not a “movement” of any kind. We are not imagining that we can become a movement or create a movement. But we do hope that everything we are doing individually and together can work toward a living Earth and even encourage the emergence of a movement of those committed to that end.

Perhaps our own embodiment of diversity and individual commitment to diverse goals can encourage diverse organizations to sense a deeper agreement on the goal. By focusing on the health of the living Earth, we may get many specialized groups to notice their deeper unity. We hope all will understand that, by speaking of the “living Earth,” we are focusing on the plants and animals and, especially, the human inhabitants. But we hope that it will call attention to the fact that these do not constitute a vast array of separated individuals but one integrated community of interdependent beings.
However narrowly the goal of some organization is defined, and however important it may be to concentrate efforts on that one goal, the organization can understand that, ultimately, approaching that goal contributes to keeping the Earth alive and helps life to flourish.
That should help us experience ourselves and our organizations, not as isolated entities separate from all others and, perhaps, in competition with some of them, but as co-workers for the living Earth. That self-understanding can be the beginning of a movement.

There once was a movement! Around 1970, millions of Americans were appalled to learn that human societies all over the world were behaving unsustainably. It would be physically impossible to continue existing patterns indefinitely. We wanted to reduce our footprints, and our legislators recognized that it would be politically perilous to ignore us. Several excellent pieces of legislation were passed and signed by Richard Nixon.

However, we were persuaded that, to effect change, we all needed to select particular foci. Some focused on farming, some on wildlife, some on racial justice, some on empowering workers, some on forests, some on philosophy. On and on. There was no longer a movement. Politicians could ignore each of us without fear of punishment at the polls. The living Earth was thought of as one cause among many, just a special interest that should be subordinated to the “real issues.” As a result, the Earth is wounded and sick.

If in addition to our own projects, we support one another and work together to influence those who decide our fate, there may still be a chance.

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