Our Poison is our Value system.
At the heart of our poison is that we live in and perpetuate a system where we value money above life. We see land as an investment first and often do not look to the life that land supports.
Each human consumes about 136 pounds of resources every week. To support that consumption, two thousand pounds of waste is created by every person. Consider that much of that weight of waste will last on our planet for hundreds of years, for example certain chlorines, which create tumors and deformities in creatures such as whales: dolphins, fish and humans for generations to come.
Within our current value system, it is astoundingly less expensive for someone to pay fines for polluting and destroying life, than to change destructive behavior. Before you start to think this is going to be another tree hugger rant, I challenge you to see past recycling, past hemp shirts, and past the “green” corporate initiatives. These things can be part of the poison too. At least in the illusion that we feel comfortable we are addressing the root problem.
If you simply walk around your house and determine how many products contain chlorine (including those processed with chlorine like all mainstream toilet papers and printer papers), you can begin to see the several hundred year legacy of poison you take part in every day. Oh wait – I’m sorry – you won't find much of this information because it is considered intellectual property and since the corporations who have produced these deadly chemicals have more rights then you, you’ll just have to trust them. Read more about the lack of general accountability and public knowledge about the toxins we use everyday here.
Spend the next few weeks reading books like Paul Hawken’s Ecology of Commerce, and you will begin to get so furious at the amount of poison around us and how hard it is to see a life without it.
The more we look at the level of toxicity, which our value system is creating, the more we will want to look away.
We want to forget and believe someone else will handle it.
This belief is Our Poison.
The face on this sticker is our collective shadow, it is the dark side of not taking responsibility in the here and now for what we are ignorant of, it is our careless, mindless, and some would argue, suicidal and homicidal behavior. Unless we look hard and long, we cannot embrace OUR RESPONSIBILITY to stop hurting species which have been evolving for hundreds of thousands of years – including ourselves.
Today we judge the people, organizations and governments of history based on their commitment to liberty and justice for all people. In the future we will be judged on what we TAKE, what we MAKE and what we WASTE. These three questions are central to living responsibly and sustainably on our planet and supporting the unalienable rights TO LIFE for all creatures and living systems on our planet. In this light we see that our current model of progress based on the acquisition and value of money and property above living systems is in fact a poison. We must eliminate it and find a remedy for the damage done; we must take responsibility for our part in it.
Every living organism and system on our planet evolved within a cycle that inherently values the surrounding life that supports it. Spend a few minutes thinking about why that is – duh right? We are the only life form whose waste cannot be fully integrated into the living systems we are connected to. We are like a dog that shits in his own dog house, chains himself so that he can not leave, poisons his food, and sleeps in contamination… Actually this is ridiculous, no dog would be so stupid.
We’re like a schizophrenic junkie living on the street who is a danger to themselves and others. We need to be hauled off the street, cleaned up, fed decent food and given a chance at health.
Except there is no one to do this. We must do it for ourselves. Not the royal we or the presidential we, or the mommy and daddy we – the YOU we – the ME we. A ruthless self assessment is essential; where you and I look into the face on this sticker and see our shadow. This assessment must lead us to the conviction to a shift in what and how we value.
What do I take?
What do I make?
What do I waste?
There will be those who say, I do what I can, when I can. I don’t litter, AND I recycle…. There are those of us who will say that a little madness is ok, a little poison goes down ok with something sweet. In the past when EVERY LIVING SYSTEM ON OUR PLANET was not in decline, that may have been a luxury we could afford. But that time has come and gone. We (and every living system on the planet) are the guinea pigs for processes, materials and products that take more than they should, make things they should not, and waste with little consideration.
No one alive today is responsible for the path that our industrial forefathers began blasting through the mountain of living systems on our planet, but all of us must OWN its legacy. We must own it because as unfair as it might seem, as startling as it may be, as bewildering and frightening as it is, we have been born upon that path. A path surrounded with road signs like – climate shift, ozone depletion and extinction.
The poet and essayist Gary Snyder writes: "The extinction of a species, each one a pilgrim of four billion years of evolution, is an irreversible loss. Death can be accepted and to some degree transformed. But the loss of lineages and all their future young is not something to accept. It must be rigorously and intelligently resisted. Death is one thing; an end to birth is something else"
Some of us have stopped along the path we find ourselves on. We see the destruction and have caught sight of the many other paths that meander forward into the life we are a part of. These are dear trails, calm waterways, these are mountain passes – not superhighways. In the end they may be a little slower going, and one could argue that we must progress faster, but that argument simply begs the question – “What is it we are rushing towards and at what price?”
Although there are solutions emerging and this site lists many, the heart of these solutions are people looking along the pathways of their own values – down the corridors of what they take, make and waste. By doing so, we find the paths back to valuing life and being part of it. So stare into the eyes of this image and find yourself. See our poison and for everything’s sake – STOP IT!!