The Planet’s Antibodies in Action

Ruminating on our environmentally induced health problems this week, I was relieved to see several signs that the times are a changing.

Despite the threats to our health posed by Australia’s coal mines, Canada’s Tar Sands, and Russia’s Gas Fields, environmentalist, Bill McKibben (Boston Globe 3/5) notes that positive change is happening as well. He sees protesters as the planet’s antibodies finally kicking in. Right here in NH, protesters have stayed the course against the Northern Pass Project for 5 ½ years and continue their protest of this project that threatens our land, our wildlife diversity, and ultimately, our health.

Film director, Michael Moore, believes that we can do more for good in the world. Annette Insdorf interviewed him about his new film. Instead of documenting US problems, Where to Invade Next documents places around the world we could learn from, countries who have turned these same problems around. In Norway, prisons are for rehabilitation, not revenge. There is no death penalty and no life in prison. The warden meets with each prisoner on arrival and says, “Someday you may be my neighbor and I want you to be a good neighbor.” And Norway leads the world in successful rehabilitation.

Germany has taken in 400,000 refugees and is prepared to take in 400,000 more because, as Angela Merkel says, “that’s who we are”. Germany refused to participate in the Iraq holocaust. They know the futility of war first hand.

The list continues through health care, education, etc. but the take home for me was the reality that we can learn from other countries when we stop pretending that we are the superior people of the world.

Philosophers have routinely called us to think “we” instead of “me”. Martin Buber, in his book, “I and Thou,” spelled out the difference between relating to other people as an “it” and as a “thou.” Environmental Activist, Joanna Macy, sees us in the midst of “The Great Turning” from an Industrial Growth Society to a Life Sustaining Civilization. Mohandas Gandhi encouraged protesters, “When people lead, the leaders will follow.”

We are no longer simply part of the United States. We are part of the World. Our health depends on World health. How can each of us claim citizenship in a Life Sustaining Civilization?

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