I write this — a documentary about The Eagles in the background — from Courtyard by Marriott down the road from The First Unitarian Church of Orlando where the Healing Our World and Ourselves conference is being held. This afternoon, keynote speakers, attorney David Cobb of Move to Amend, Sister Pat Siemen (Catholic nun and attorney) of the Center for Environmental Jurisprudence at Barry University on ‘the rights of nature’, and Canadian psychologist/addiction expert, Bruce Alexander, made for an electrifying panel on how their areas overlap and intensify each other. Some highlights from my notes.
Pat Siemen: “The planet has a right to exist.” She is part of a group working to introduce ‘the rights of nature’ into a new Florida constitution in 2018. “[We must] let the Earth teach us how to be.” Faith-driven initiatives have sparked movements for justice and human rights because ‘spiritual practice helps people sustain their efforts for the long haul.’ There is no ‘away.’ “We can’t sustain our lives without sustaining the Earth.” “We have to rediscover our ecological identity; unless this is our core, we can’t make the right decisions for the future.”
David Cobb: Move to Amend is much more than campaign finance reform, it is a movement to restore democracy. [Transitioneers, take note] Law follows culture [therefore] organizing at the community level, educating ourselves out of the existing paradigm, starting a new chorus, are the way to go. [We must reject] the ‘creation myth of the USA.” Cultural blindness has to be unlearned. Real change happens when people raise hell. The law is not about justice; it’s about consistency. I take you seriously [because you are here]. I take responsibility for doing the best I can. I release the results. [My comment: Right out of the Bhagavad Gita].
Psychologist/addiction expert, author of The Globalization of Addiction, Bruce Alexander: This is the first conference on addiction and the environment. It is not a coincidence that addiction and the destruction of the planet are happening at the same time. “We can’t win until we are brave enough to look at the machine itself.” The field of psychology has not contributed to solutions to environmental issues. Self recovery and social recovery are [or should be] the same. “We all want to live in a way that is good.”
There was also some lovely music including Samantha Moffatt on the dulcimer, and Dock Street performing an original song: Rights of Nature.
Tomorrow I’m on a panel (representing Transition Palm Beaches) to interact — “how can we help” — with the keynoters. An exercise in improv and courage which is definitely out of my comfort zone. I won’t let the sound of my own wheels drive me crazy.