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The bigger picture

Rights of Nature - Rights of Mother EarthEarth Rights

Our modern way of life is dangerously out of balance with the Earth. Overarching laws and governance strategies, driven by blind adherence to myths such as “prosperity through unending economic growth,” treat the Earth and her systems as property to be owned and manipulated, rather than as intimate partners with which we have co-evolved across the eons. By breaking these sacred relationships and enslaving Nature, we have stripped ecosystems and species of their freedom to exercise the obligations inherent in their being. The result is escalating harm, with impacts now threatening the fabric of existence as we know it.

To change this self-destructive path, we must respect the rights of all beings to the freedom they require to realize their full potential in the larger web of existence. The term “to free” not only comes from the Old English “to liberate,” but also arises from meanings of “to love” and “to honor.” In numerous other languages, the primary sense of the term “freedom” similarly has encompassed terms such as “beloved,” “friend,” and “peace.” Our ability – our freedom – to embrace our relationships with each other and Nature is integral to our own sense of joy and peace. Through our nurturing of the complex, sacred web of relationships within which we exist, we open a path to co-evolution to higher levels of well-being.

Importantly, simply recognizing our relationships with Nature is insufficient. We must go further and embrace our obligations to ensure the well-being of those relationships. Just as we stole other humans’ freedoms to meet their obligations to family, friends and community by enslaving them or otherwise restricting their rights, so too are we now restricting the ability of other beings to freely and fully honor their obligations in the Earth community.

We have lost our sense of intimate belonging with the Earth to the siren call of control and profit, but we can recapture it by honoring the roles that all beings play as integral partners in a shared existence. To do so, we must correct the wrongs we have committed by enslaving Nature. Specifically, we must acknowledge that we have actively created legal systems that have stripped Nature of her freedom to fully express love and obligation to Creation, and then fix our error by affirmatively recognizing Nature’s full rights and freedoms in our laws. Ultimately, our human obligations to all beings – obligations we share with Nature – will become so ingrained that these directives will fade into obsolescence. Until then, we must correct the self-destructive habits we have built up over the centuries through new laws and governance systems that set us on a path of love, honor and obligation toward the Earth and all her beings.