Sunday, 10 August 2014

Reflections on Care by AoC SA Group Saturday 9th August 2014


Agents of Change is a space where we can share our care for our environment.  But even the relationships which exist between us are a form of care.  We care because we exist in a greater world.  This is why we meet, because of care for the environment, and for each other, and for the animals who will be effected by climate change.  It's also good to know that we are part of something greater, where people in other parts of the world are also meeting to share.

People need to care more about animals.  In English, we speak about animals as it.  It this/that, but animals aren't objects.  They are alive.  Animals are living.  People say animals don't have souls but I think they do.  Trees are also alive.  Yet people kill animals and cut down trees.  I think if I went to the shops with a chain saw and cut down people, it would be a terrible thing to do.  And people are protected by laws against that.  But I think all of life should be protected.

If we could see our vulnerability, and how much we depend on life, plants, soil, water and how much life depends on us, we would act differently.  Plants make oxygen from carbon dioxide.  I think that if we could see the whole, we would feel differently.  On earth everything has a symbiotic connection and a cycle of life.  All life, bacteria, fungus, plants and insects co-exist.  For a long time, western culture has forgotten to give and take.  The earth provides for all of us, all of the animals, insects and plants.  If we give as well as take it would be more helpful.

How we live our lives and how we see the world around us makes an impact.  It would be helpful, if we could learn to see, from being very young, how nature works.  We learn about competition and status, but I think we need to learn about nature, and how to only take what we need.  Squirrels and ants take seed or acorns and hoard, but when there is extra, they grow up from the ground.  Appreciation of life, appreciation of meals, as a sense that something has been sacrificed may make us more aware not to exploit.  If we could consume less, we could sustain ourselves.  But at least people are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of consumption.

I think it is about learning to see, and to know differently.  If we saw wood, not as a possible maple floor, but as a tree which provided life, not just for birds, but for insects, reptiles, shelter, it would stop us from seeing life as just objects or products.  Thinking and understanding more deeply about how we use the resources we have could bring about change.  Appreciation for all life could be key.

Living in a less egocentric society could help us to care more.  Otherwise we try to enforce our will on the world around us, as though it belongs to us.  We want to kill some insects, or harvest worms.  We think property or plots of land belongs to us, and we can poison animals or birds.  Some farmers poison lots of birds.  But we could provide alternate food for the animals and insects.  Otherwise we interrupt the natural cycles of life that occur on the land instead of allowing them to continue.

Care is important with how we live life, and little things make such a difference.  On Table Mountain, fires were started by people throwing cigarette ends into the dry grass and fynbos.  The mountain burned for a long time, and the plants and animals were destroyed.  So many of the plants which contributed to our present lives have died.  Being aware of life, rain, fire, and respect for life helps to stop plants becoming extinct.  Because if the mountain burns, then plants which are not mature enough to have seeds or cones before there is another fire can die out.

If people go into wild spaces and see them differently, I think we would care more.  I admire the volunteers who look after hikers, because they are people who give time and energy to bring solutions to the problem of people being afraid of going out into the wild.  If people make contributions based on care - for the wild and for each other, it will be possible to live more ethically.  Shared interests create a sense of possibility.  And it stops people from feeling so isolated and so alone.  It creates a sense of sharing and the opportunity to bring new options.  Co-operation between people brings greater freedom to share what we have without it being vetoed by competition.  We can help each other because we have different abilities.  we can share and appreciate our different contributions.

A culture of sharing and caring within groups of people helps to perpetuate an ethical form of living.  We bring different skills and we can all contribute these skills.  Then as a collective, we will get further then we do as individuals.  Realization that we are interconnected instead of ego based means that ideas and contributions can grow and change when we share and care.  We can can problem solve together.  When you share what makes you happy, you get benefit, and we learn so much from each other.  Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

I'm learning a new view of care, because it sometimes seems romantic or idealistic.  But sometimes it is about getting upset with the way things are or have been going, and asking questions about that.  But when we care enough to listen to each other, and respond to each other, we bring spaces for change.  We may not all have the same ideas, but we can explore together.  Sitting together through the struggles is also a form of care.

We can use the energy of coming together and exploring to create new ideas and new interpretations so that we can make a difference.  We can use our sense of unease to bring something new to life.  Because that way we can live according to our own values, instead of the ones which may harm the world or other people.  Our sense of unease can also be our motivation to bring change.  When we are moved to the point of feeling pain, and we talk and share, we bring new possibilities to life.  

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