Sunday, 24 August 2014

AoC SA Saturday Two Rivers Public Intervention 23 August 2014 CT SA.

My question was about how to encourage other people to care for the environment.  It has to be about awareness.  We can't and shouldn't force people to do anything they don't want to do.  Maybe we can find ways of helping people to do things they most enjoy?  WE can make people aware of all of the things that are happening, and the things they can participate in, and see what appeals to them.  We can tell people about Agents of Change, and people can share how they want to help and make things better.  We have a choice to try and help, but if things go on with pollution the people to come won't have the same choices we do, and so we have a responsibility to them too.

I feel that not many people are aware of what's happening with their environment and that they aren't aware because no one is talking to them about it.  I also think that people think that if we throw away one piece of paper, it won't do too much harm to the world.  But the thing is that many people are doing that , and not only one piece of paper, its wrappers and unfinished food, tins, plastic and things which are not biodegradable.  I don't think people realize that if they keep doing what they are doing, it will result in bad things in the future.  If people used the skills they have have towards a better, more environmentally friendly technology, the world could be a better place.  If we become a bit more interactive with one another and have conversations in person with people, talking to your friends about things that really matter, like disease and pollution and poverty, then it will help.

The question that I asked myself was why do I not do enough things outside of the house, rather than just sit in all day and my answer was that I am a bit tired at the end of the day and all I want to do is relax.  By relaxing I get  bit lazy, and while being lazy is nice, instead of me lying in bed and watching TV all day, I could be helping .  I think talking to people, and particularly children about being more eco-friendly is important for the future of the earth.

I'm learning that imagination is our true power in the world.  It comes from inner guidance, and it shapes action.  Much of my early work focused on social justice.  As I see how heritage, story telling and environment are deeply connected, and how development, environmental degradation and what it means to be a person are deeply intertwined, I know that we cannot forget about earth, nature and the life around us while working towards social justice.  Instead of focusing on development, it is perhaps time to see that there has been too much development, and it is time to use imagination, inner guidance and the energy and freedom that brings to shape new actions.  This ability to contribute and share is what I now see to be the meaning of freedom.  Civil society has a great deal of power when it comes to shaping a more just world.  Although there is a lot of discussion about political will, I think empowerment comes from within.  Imagination shapes possibility, and possibility brings freedom and new ways of being within the world.

Spreading the Agents of Change work is more possible now than in previous decades or ages.  Cyber-technology is available to all at very low cost and allows almost anyone a voice to be heard.  Gone are the days of only the most powerful voices in the news.  Many, many voices, not only those of big industry and corporations can be heard.  The concerns of the public in the work Agents of Change is doing can be shared between like minded people.  Groups that have similar concerns, eg bird sanctuaries, SANCOB, the fishing sector and wetland groups could also contribute.

The bigger the support, the bigger the attention and search for insights to the concerns, the more possibilities we have, and the more making productive change becomes possible.  Creating change in a way that is not fanatical, but means going out and creating a contribution means bringing possibility and awareness to life.

I think that making people aware of what will happen if we don't start taking care of the planet and not taking advantage of it could make a large difference in the world.  Making children and teenagers aware of it is a good way to be more responsible and maybe create a better future for future generations.

Public questions:

When the water level rises, what will happen to the Cape Flats, and all of the poor people who live there?

What about our children?  It is very likely that our children will still be alive when the water level increases.  Will people be okay?  We have to create a better world for our children.

With much thanks and appreciation to the whole group and Nicci Attfield for facilitating.
Photos by Scott Attfield.

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.