Originally written in response to community advocate Berta Cáceres' murder, March 3, 2016. Berta, who was pivotal in stopping construction of a large dam, received the 2015 Goldman Prize South and Central America. Revisited July 2016 following Gloria Capitan's murder July 2, 2016 and again January 2017 following Isidro Baldenegro Lopez's murder January 15, 2017.
THE PASSENGER'S PRAYER
If I be anyone in this life
let me be a messenger
let me write beauty on the sky
let me write a love letter
so wide and deep and long
that it turns day to night
forcing men and women to look up.
Let me write a reminder of what is great
and what is small.
And if my being is not enough,
if my death is the only reminder of man’s power
to take life, let me die.
Let this love letter
exist in memory,
born of experience.
PASSENGER's PRAYER was written September 2014 during a month's witness with Passenger pigeon.
Global Witness reports 185 people across 16 countries were killed in 2015 while protecting their ecological communities. That's a 60% increase in such killings from 2014.
- VOA News
Before that day, anger was wasting.
Anger felt crippling on International Women’s Day March 8, 2016, as the world celebrated the woman and my thoughts were with women who have not only died in the stand for life, but have been murdered for standing in the way of someone's 'progress'.
I am - privileged among species with physical potential and entitled in the eyes of some by nothing other than skin color - uncomfortable, to put it mildly, embodying privilege and entitlement.
As a mother, I am not pacified by my own child's comfort and safety. I am a mother whole and complete, knowing one child in every child and every child in one. My peace of mind is every child nourished and measuring all of my purchases and investments by this bottom line. And I will be creatively restless until all mothers and children are well fed and sheltered in loving arms, homes, and communities. Unwelcome in marriage to my father's son, my stand in solidarity with all women and children since 2012 separates me from my son and leaves me extensively outcast from both families. Through the course, I've lived to remember the difference between genuine and 'feel good' philanthropy. One is a matter of compassion. The other a matter of guilt-inspired duty. Much of the support I've received has come from those who 'could not afford to give'. Compassion and trusted intuition are more the traits of a genuine philanthropist than is financial abundance. Though one may be blessed with all and bless all so.
For me, anger rising in response to the murder of women and men advocating for their existence is complicated by inequality among community advocates, more commonly known as environmental activists. It is that some who lead large organizations - all men and mostly white - earn multiples of six figures annually, while those staying and protecting their communities with their own bodies often go compensated minimally if that and pay the highest price of injustice whether they live or die.
Environment is another word for community. There is no justice for the environment unless there is justice for all community members. As the environmental movement has gone thus far, there's been a great deal of bargaining among those highly paid that they may maintain a materially extravagant lifestyle - a lifestyle simply unavailable to the entire human population paid for personally by those who suffer the worst of extraction and production costs.
Corporate - n. partnership, enterprise, company; see BUSINESS - Competition
So long as individuals like corporations are competing for a piece of the philanthropic pie, I see no resolution to the root driver of the murders and communal, ecological demise. That is, fear-based corporate patriarchal competition for survival, however extravagant, is the root of this madness.
Being recognized as a non-profit, service-oriented organization exempts a corporation from paying taxes on income. However, tax-exempt status does not protect the corporation from the hook of being an entity that must itself survive in what has long been a cut-throat competitive game. As it’s been since women have begun to regain status amidst male leadership, male competition has dominated top positions in a hierarchy and females have competed with males and among themselves for those leadership roles, whether in management of one group or separate groups.
Many service corporations have, thus, lost sight of original duties to serve the whole community and prioritize vitality for the most vulnerable community members, primarily plants. Morals have been regularly dismissed to secure funding so that the groups themselves may operate and pay staff. The result is a swarm of groups, supposedly dedicated to the same cause, which are essentially hungry bodies devoted to themselves - bodies whose success depends on the lesser accomplishment of other liked-minded groups and whose very existence perpetuates, as it depends upon, continued exploitation of the disenfranchised.
And this is how the environmental and species conservation movement has failed and continues to fail the most vulnerable and voiceless among community members along with their most steadfast guardians among women and men. While no one, I mean to say NO ONE among environmental and conservation advocates desires it to be this way just as NO ONE running extraction industries wants most to cause harm, it is so.
"Inequality in the family makes it feel like home in public life.
Violence in the home normalizes it everywhere else."
- Gloria Steinem, 'When Women Are People…and Corporations Are Not' via Bioneers
There is yet this turning wheel of a competitive patriarchal system in which, if I do not take when I think I have a chance, there is no guarantee I will be nurtured. This is not the 'mother's way' but the way of patriarchy unintentionally perpetuated by denying mothers their nurturing ways in the interest of serving husbands who were denied nurturing mothers.
This is not to say everyone must live equally in material, yet, if there will not be common interest in provision of quality living for all, let there be restrictions on expenditures of goods and materials used solely to mark an item off a personal bucket list. There exists no ordinary child. No ordinary being. Every one a miracle. And no favorites among us.
As Gloria Steinem points out, what happens in the home happens in the community. Being that I create and communicate at the computer, cook my meals on a gas stove and more, my hands are heavy with wanton waste. So, refusing to wallow in guilt, I use the energy and materials extra frugally and with intent to serve collective well-being. And, because fossil fuels and raw materials do lay to waste the lives of so many, I consider it more my rightful responsibility to have a voice in how others spend these fuels and materials than I do in who others marry, whether or not they engage in sexual intercourse and with whom, and whether or not they choose to conceive and birth a child.
And, I'd be utterly remiss without mention of those corporations and corporate heads that are in business purely to do business and profit personally therefrom, as they are schooled to do. I'd like to see an informed vote as to whether or not SpaceX will attempt travel to Mars in 2018 in preparation for human arrival there in 2025 in order to "establish the environment for entrepreneurs on Mars to flourish" in businesses ranging from “the first iron ore refinery to the first pizza joint”.
Let it be understood that in the corporal realm, no single entity exists without engaging another. And, so, in essence two individuals are two and not two, one and not one. And one without the other does not exist. The farmer is not without soil, just as the poet is not without soul, and the corporation is not without labor and materials. Be it given then that the first line of any business is gratitude to those who inform the business and make the business possible. Be it also understood that any entity dependent on fossil fuels holds in their hands the sacrifice of whole communities.
A corporation is a corporation. Every corporation provides a service to someone whether or not that corporation also provides the bulk of financial profits to officers and shareholders. Whether a service is necessary or justifiable given common needs and communal reality is a matter of opinions worth exploring. When the service becomes insignificant or undesired, the corporation ceases to exist. For, if the corporation is to be privileged with personhood, the corporation meets inevitable death like any other body.
Innocent ignorance differs vastly from informed denial. I vow to act as if I know what I say I know. Life is not solely about me and what I want. I exist because the global community exists. That I have the money in hand to afford something doesn't necessarily mean others can afford me that something.
#keepitintheground #feetontheground #Vow2Act – Vow 2 Act