The conference room was sunny. One complete wall was a window, linking those in the room with the intricacies of the temperate rainforest just beyond the conference building’s grounds. Most impressive was the way the sunshine appeared to flicker among the leaves as they moved gently in the breeze. The effect was peaceful. Possibly that was the intent of the room’s situation and design – to create a feeling of peace among those who consulted or sometimes debated there.
The participants in this conference slowly entered the room and quietly found seats around the central table, which was supplied with small snacks and cups for coffee or tea, should a participant wish that. On one side of the table, the environmentalists arranged themselves; the other side was occupied by those who wished to end war. The groups were not enemies; neither were they yet comrades in an effort to achieve both their goals. The leader/main spokesperson for the environmentalists was a tall woman who looked to be at least part indigenous. Her face was strong and vibrant, but not what one might interpret as exceptionally beautiful. She had long, dark-brown hair, and a generally friendly mien, but one which also seemed to brook no nonsense. Chief among the delegation of those who advocated abandoning war was a quite handsome black man of medium build. His stance seemed to say that he had survived many struggles and come through with an exceptional balance. Those wishing to abandon war had called the conference, hoping to join forces with those who wished to save the Earth.
The woman spoke. “Now that we have gathered here,” she challenged, “please do explain to us what is to be gained by our adding to our focus the abolition of war. It is difficult enough to make an effect on those who seem determined, on purpose or through neglect, to destroy our Earth.”
“First,” Martin (for that was the man’s name) replied, “I thank you for taking the time to come here to confer with us. We understand how busy you are; we ourselves are similarly occupied. It is my sincere belief that this time will prove productive for us both. There are many reasons that cooperation with each other will strengthen both the efforts for peace and the efforts to renew the Earth. I will let my colleagues present them to you, after which, I will request that you and your people also offer suggestions and ask questions.”
Robin, the woman, graciously offered, “We are ready to hear you.”
Martin gestured to the woman sitting on his right.
“With respect,” she began, “we both have the same ultimate goal. You desire peace between people and nature so that the Earth and its denizens and humanity as well can flourish. We desire peace between people, so that the destruction of civilization and the despoiling of our living spaces will cease. These goals are two sides of the same coin; people who are not at peace cannot be at peace with either nature or each other. People who are not at peace cannot stop destroying the Earth or each other.”
She nodded to Robin and Martin and turned her gaze to the delegate who sat beside her, a mildly stocky older gentleman with glasses. Clearing his throat, he began.
“I think we can engage in projects which at once fulfill both our goals,” he asserted. “Fort Strong, a major military base in the deep south of our country, has been holding intensive air and land military drills supposedly in the name of defensive readiness, but, we believe, in preparation for a major overseas attack. We wish to decommission this military base. Fort Strong is also one of the worst polluters in its area; it is a Superfund for nuclear waste, debris from its artillery ranges is often dumped into the surrounding rivers, and the noise from the target practices has driven most of the wildlife from the area. It has cut down the forested areas surrounding it for a security barrier, and is also conducting research into new diseases, endangering the people in the base and in the surrounding area. Its commander is known for having no respect for either nature or anyone promoting peace. We believe that in joining forces to develop strategical protests and governmental lobbying, we can either dismantle or diminish this base.”
On the gentleman’s right sat a small lady, about four and a half feet in height, but who was in no way invisible. Her posture and her vivid eyes gave evidence of her passion and attention. The gentleman invited her to speak.
Bowing to the environmentalists courteously, she expanded upon the topic of mutual interest. “It is not only forts, honorable people, but also the survival of the denizens of the sea. The ships of our navy routinely use sonar echoes to navigate and discover what might be hiding in the sea around them. These sounds deafen and ultimately kill many of the species who live in the sea. For example, we recently discovered a dead whale calf washed up on the beach. In this case, the calf was killed by a boat’s propeller, which it could not navigate around because its sonar, its hearing, had been destroyed by the sounds from the ships. The ships also pollute the sea, discharging their untreated waste into it. We know that the health of our oceans and their denizens is also of great concern to you. Here, too, we have converging interests, which will be far better addressed if we educate and cooperate with each other.”
Martin spoke again. “My friends,” he urged, “as I sincerely hope you are, it is time we joined to prevent the destruction of both the Earth and the extinction of our species. It is now your turn to speak.”
The reader is left to imagine Robin’s response.
This vignette was written in response to a prompt from a course created by World Beyond War, which course I have been pursuing. Besides responding to the prompt, which was to write a dialogue between an activist for the environment and an activist for eliminating wars, in which dialogue the environmentalist asked why the groups should cooperate, this vignette serves another purpose. We are currently engaged in massive struggle for the planet, for the survival of our species, for social and economic justice, and for right relationship to each other, to the Earth, to all the denizens of the Earth, and to the creative matrix (intelligent energy, God, the Whole – many names). We are surrounded by the struggle, the chaos, which precedes change, and we do have some choice in the nature of that change.
What is evident is that the entire situation is in itself a whole, each part related to another. Similarly, in the vignette, one can see that the struggle for the environment and the struggle for ending war are related. What is also evident is that passivity or apathy is counted as a negative. Not being active or at least vocal is the equivalent of allowing change which is not desired to proceed. We are called upon to take a stand; no stand is in itself a stand.
To effectively choose among options and take a stand is not a quick and easy matter. One must first pursue and understand the depths of the chaos – to discover and digest what is going on beyond the surface. What is actually happening? There is more than what is apparent on the surface. What direction is it taking? What is the logical result of this step or that action? Is a given direction one which we perceive to be consistent with life, with the values we hold? What are those values? What steps would need to be taken to lead to implementing the values we wish to see? (I do believe the first steps lie in healing ourselves to act with integrity, according to the values we profess.) For example, we may believe in cooperation, the well-being of the group. Have we been given a chance to discuss cooperation, competition, individual and group good? Can they coexist in balance? Are they out of balance, or going in a direction that may lead to more destruction? Are we given a chance to evaluate differing options, to decide what is true cooperation, or are we told to do this and that because it is said that the group benefits thereby? That is not cooperation, it is obedience. Do we believe in blind obedience to earthly authority? Making distinctions is important.
Each of us has a role to play, and each role affects the outcome. No one is less important than anyone else. We are not same, but we are equal in value, and we each have the gift and effect of sovereignty, of choice. We are free to ignore all this and take a “whatever” stance and just go with whatever flow is in the moment and not really think much about it. We are free to choose the victim stance. We are also free to choose the stance of one who co-creates.
There is so much to be done. Healing the Earth and midwifing peace are only two. Each of us has a large or a small part to play. What is your part? Are you a healer in any way? Do you work with the wounds of the psyche? Do you care for the soil, plant trees, or grow herbs? Do you teach (pick your topic)? Are you the glue that keeps a family going? Are you one who can relate science and technology to nature itself, and heal the dichotomy? Are you in love with nature, or do you think the world is better off governed by technology and AI? Are you a being who radiates love and positivity around you? Are you an expert at visualization and prayer? an artist? a musician? Whatever your talent or calling, it can integrate into a healing whole or resist that whole.
Try thinking about it. See how many areas you can find in which work needs to be done to create a sustainable, nurturing, compassionate, just, and respectful outcome to the present chaos. See what might be working against that. Notice what your part might be. How, while continuing to give yourself the nurture you need, can you activate the contribution of your part? We are in the midst of chaos. The time is now. What will we create?