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Intelligent Care of the Environment

I would like to report on the first International Workshop on the Care of the Environment, led by Wytske Visser in The Netherlands. I felt quite honored to be there, and I am excited that RC has taken on thinking about the environment.

Wytske is courageously leading in an area where many people have given up hope. She clearly leads by example. She has faced many of her fears head on and has won many battles of both a personal and political nature. She made it clear how possible it is to not give up and to achieve our biggest goals. Along with being inspired by Wytske, I appreciated the warmth and kindness of the Dutch people and enjoyed meeting people from many different parts of Europe.

There may be lots of white middle-class people involved in the more well-known conservation-oriented environmental organizations, but I am learning that the environment is not just a white middle-class issue. It is connected to and essential in most, if not all, liberation struggles: eliminating racism, sexism, the oppression of young people, classism, and "mental health" system oppression, to name a few. And clearly the environment is central to the health and well-being of every person on the planet.

Here are some points Wytske emphasized at the workshop:

1) Our connection with the Earth is not lost; it is only occluded. By our very nature (all our genetic programming having evolved on this planet), our connection with the planet is intact. We just have to discharge to remember it.

2) In a rational society we would not be striving simply to be comfortable. Being comfortable is not the point. Living a zestful and courageous life and enjoying each other is the point.

3) Our disconnection from the planet can start with disconnection from the needs of our bodies. (Our bodies are where our environment begins.) Due to classism, our bodies have been neglected and abused-through overwork, repetitive tasks, sitting all day, etc. Because of the lack of time for discharge and re-evaluation, we have succumbed to this situation. We then try to get some of our human needs for love, exercise, touch, and rest met in a lot of ineffective ways, such as drugs, sex, food, and material goods. Advertisements tell us to buy something because then (by implication, either in the pictures or the words) we will have our needs for love, touch, rest, etc., met. We are almost always disappointed once we actually buy those things.

While it is true that we do need some of the things that we buy, like food, shelter, and medical attention, we are never going to get love and understanding through purchasing material goods. We need to figure out what our real needs are, and before buying something ask ourselves if we are feeling alone or hopeless. If we are, we should hold off on buying whatever it is until we get a chance to discharge.

4) Our economic system is based on continual linear growth and an ever-increasing extraction of natural resources in order to make material goods. This is impossible on a planet that has physical limits. Therefore it is irrational.

5) Particularly those of us who are activists need to pay attention to getting enough support and rest. To be successful activists we need to: 1) make a goal, 2) gather enough support so that when we are attacked (which we will be) we can receive enough counseling to maintain our endurance, and 3) when we make a mistake, get attention for figuring out how to correct it, and do so with integrity.

I look forward to more organizing and leading on this issue in the U.S. If anyone has any thoughts or articles they would like to pass along to help create an RC journal on care of the environment, I will be glad to receive them.

Batya Kagan
854 Western Drive
Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA

(Present Time No. 110, January 1998)

Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00