Advancing a Planetary Ethic
'The brute by nature knows no self-restraint. [The human being] is [ human being] because [they are] capable of, and in so far as [they] exercise, self-restraint.'
-Mohandas K. Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1925
Eco Pax Mundi Agora aims chiefly to redress the abusing relationship that Western(ising) culture has established with the planet -with Mother Earth, that is. Hence, the central position that a planetary ethic occupies on the agoras. In a complementary manner, both the maturing agoras and the mature ecosystem ones provide the ideal setting to instil and adopt a planetary ethic. Not in vain, co-stewards receive literacy in planetary ethics during the initial training period.
Self-Restraint is not Synonymous with Sacrifice
An ethic invariably entails a degree of self-restraint. It rectifies undue excesses that we may have incurred in the course of our lives as a result of personal indulgence or a family tradition or a custom ingrained in the culture we belong to. Perhaps given the fact that Western(ising) culture is inconceivbaled without material abundance and a highly developed habit to immediately satisfy flamboyant whims, self-restraint amongst Westerners is often regarded as entailing great pains and sacrifice. Books like The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice attest to this truism. It takes some perspective to realise that this may be far from the case.he Environmental Politics of
Furthering the well-being of all on the planet by constraining my desires, my actions, my consumption habits is, at bottom, adopting a win-win approach to life. The planet is better off when I shrink my ecological footprint, so am I. If I cycle to work instead of using my private car, I disrupt less of the mineral world to meet my need to take myself to work, I am carbon neutral and on top I get fit and come to enjoy some fresh air and may enjoy the sight of a nice landscape on my way to work. Yet there is another dimension to the personal advantage of containing my urges.
To be sure, many of us see as one of the goals in life personal growth. In this light, self-restraint presents us with the opportunity for self-improvement. We should therefore intensively welcome the control of our inclinations. This learning process should be regarded as an invitation to walk the righteous path. For self-discipline is the return to, the finding back of, our personal evolutionary course. Against this background, self-restraint pointers, far from leading to self-denial, conform to stepping stones to our own development; they are consequently causes for great celebration. By extension, a planetary ethic should be embraced with boundless joy. It should be regarded for what it is. Namely, guidance back to the pursuit of a conscious tread upon the Planet. A planetary ethic is a reminder of the rules of the game as embodied beings: abiding by them is synonymous with personal growth and fulfilment.
An Embodied Spirituality
Eco Pax Mundi Agora conceives as an intrinsic tenet of a planetary ethic the deployment of an embodied spirituality. Although the organisation is conspicuously guided by what we consider to be highly high-minded principles, it doesn't settle for a declaration of statements and, instead, eagerly focuses upon deeds.
Embodied spirituality may be defined as the enactment of the highest ideals in one's daily life. Hence the inclusion, in the EPMA Canopy and Roots, of a number of mechanisms whereby the archetypes of love, peace, harmony, solidarity and respect, within and without, are instantiated in everyday routines. In other words, the organisation is run in a way that the acts and habits of co-stewards, and those of Eco Pax Mundi Agorians at large, epitomise these spiritual principles in an Earth-centric manner, that is, vis-à-vis the human and the more-than-human worlds.
In sum, Eco Pax Mundi Agora offers a way of being in, and interacting within, the world (which we may call Eco Pax Mundi Agoranism) where the highest ideals are done justice to.
A planetary ethic must, with great urgency, lead to the re-embodiment of Western(ising) tread upon the planet. Re-embodiment of Western(ising) tread upon the planet may be defined as the successful attempt at starting meeting human needs in a respectful manner of both the biocycles of the body and the ecocycles of Mother Earth. These two types of cycles are definitely intertwined since taking care of your body signifies taking care of the Earth -your body is a reflection of the cosmos. Co-stewards are taught to undertake their tasks in such a way. Hence the emphasis upon adopting a slow pace of life as outlined below. .
Re-embodiment also implies that the ecological footprint of co-stewards doesn't exceed local or, at the most, bioregional dimensions. That is, with a view to victoriously re-embodying production processes upon the agoras, most of the resources used come from the surrounding area. In a similar manner, the waste generated in any production processes on the agoras must become a resource input for another production process, in line with permaculture principles Only in this way do agoras succeed in closing ecocylces. Hence the emphasis upon self-reliance as expounded below. .
Ecocentric Ethics as a Sound Starting Basis
Ecocentric ethics corrects the marked anthrophocentrism ingrained in Western(ising) lifestyles at the expense of equally worthy planetary organisms. It invites us to take the whole earthly realm, where the human being is inserted, as the starting basis for our moral judgements. That's why we may consider the tenets of this ethics as a bedrock for a planetary ethic.
A Critical Theory
In view of the intrinsically ecocidal character of the Western(ising) world, any decision-making predicated upon a planetary ethic turns immediately into a critical theory. The interrelated queries that guide this critical inquiry read as follows: what are the philosophical assumptions or Weltanschuung that inform what political and economic institutions and justify what and what number of simultaneous ecocides?
Eating with a Conscience
The eating habits of the Western(ising) world are largely shaped by an industrial food system backed up by the powerful marketing departments of the multinationals that grow and commercialise it. Industrial food contains worrying traces of chemicals, is saturated in grease and sugar, and is too rich in meat, cereal and dairy. Such an artificial diet is highly unhealthy and has led to a surge in food allergies, and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cancer.
One of the central remits of an agora is the organic growing of food in accordance with permaculture principles. Such a practice immediately offers co-stewards and the larger community that benefits from this produce a healthy diet rich in vegetables. Moreover, the self-growing of food instils into the co-stewards a conscience of their dietary habits. The literacy in planetary ethics they have received as recruited co-stewards further renders them aware of the irresponsible immorality that consuming not least red meat entails. First because, as an animal ethics would remind us, the worth of an animal is considered inferior to that of person -only this form of human-centrism does justify the slaughter of the former. Second, because the ecological footprint of red meat fed with grain is enormous [provide data] and all the arable land devoted to this grain is subtracted from that staples. Third and relatedly, arable land is thus put at the disposal of a minority who can pay for a diet rich on meat.
DECENT WORK FOR ALL
DRASTIC REDUCTION OF MEAT CONSUMPTION WITH A STRONG INVITATION TOWARDS VEGETERIAN AND VEGAN DIETS
AWAKENING FROM THE MATERIALISTIC SLUMBER: REDUCTION OF NEEDS TOWARDS SUFFICIENCY AND CULTIVATION OF 'BE' VALUES
Seduced by the many baits that capital deploys to secure its own survival, we have fallen into such a profound materialistic slumber that we conceive the transition towards a post-materialistic culture a 'sacrifice'. We consider that doing away with the numberless superfluous creature comforts that allegedly make our life easier will exert a great toll on our qualitiy of life. But that is just a slumber. Once we awake to the implications and attendant delights of living embodiedly upon a planet powered by a star called the Sun it will be easier for us to grasp that the reduction of needs will lead to a lighter tread upon the planet and therefore to a more direct encounter with the myriad sacred forms that inhabit it.
If I cycle, or even better, walk to work, I will far more easily notice that flowers, shrubs and trees that lie along the way and I will be able to appreciate the very beautiful sketch that the sun and the clouds paint on the skies.
Buddhists have alreadly long observed that any material goods that pile up on top of basic food, shelter, clothing and education are a source of personal discontent and social conflict. This observation is in line with the psychoanalytic findings of Erich Fromm, who in To have or to be? claims that industrial society has chosen hedonisitc 'have' values dazzled by the unlimited production and consumption that such society has promised (indeed, by way of externalising the ecological costs of such consumption which our disembodded economies afford, as ecological economists aptly argue). Yet the delight of moving to 'be' values (truth, beauty, creativity, morality) as the humanistic psychology of Abrahamm Maslow has also noted, can never be compensated by a larger pool of good, as the findings of Tim Jackson in Prosperity without Growth further attest.
In the context of the agora our embodied needs are fulfilled with an agroecological culture, superfluous needs are disposed of and community is rooted in the 'be' values of solidarity, companionship where the arts, the crafts and the humanities keep co-stewards and the larger community purposively entertained while requiring little more than the gentleness of the Sun.
Eco Pax Mundi Agora is guided by the slogan 'we have what we need if we use what we have.' This is another way of saying that the organisation promotes the self-reliance of the agoras. Much following the logic of the first people, otherwise also called ecosystem people, the agoras are intensely renatured areas.where co-stewards develop the skills to produce a great deal of what they and part of the surrounding community need for living using the material inputs from the agora and the bioregional area where they belong. In this light, agoras relinquish the characteristic tenet of the modern household as merely a locus of consumption and, instead, turn into loci of production. An agora, to be sure, caters for the basic needs of the community. These include housing, food, clothing and tools.
Eco Pax Mundi Agora
Ecoliteracy is probably the cornerstone of an ecological civilisation. The community that develops from the establishment of an agora offers a very propitious ethos to instil these ecocentric principles, chief amongst which population control, a low-tech culture and the extension of love to all living creatures on the planet.
The relatively small community that is generated around an agora is a far more suitable setting to instil a culture of restrained human population than an urban sprawl. A human population whose needs are not met at the expense of those of the livelihood of wild species and simultaneously allows for rewilding. Relying upon literature on the field, Eileen Crist in Abundant Earth: Toward an Ecological Civilization sets this figure at 2 billion Earth citizens.
"worldwide access to effective and safe birth control, increased resources for education and girls and empowerment of women (in culturallyfitting ways) and men accepting their share of responsibility for family planning" 'Towards a Half Wild Earth' by John Davis
REWILDING HALF OF THE EARTH
LEARNING TO NURTURE PLACE
One of the ills of western(ised) civilisation is that we have created a consumer culture that to secure its survival must feed on novelty. As a result, newness is portrayed as the most valuable commodity. We pay to be given the latest mobile phone and fashion garment. Similarly, we are lured into constantly discovering new destinations. With this headlong plunge into new places, we fail to nurture the surroundings where we live and establish an emotional bond with place.
The agora, by contrast, offers us a nature-rich environment that not only feeds us phyisically but also emotionally and spiritually, thereby inviting us to lace our emotions to our living area.
EXTENSION OF LOVE AND RESPECT FOR ALL CREATURES
MEANINGFUL LIVING AND REALISATION IN COMMUNION WITH LOCI STANDI
RECIPROCITY AND INTERCONNECTEDNESS
Re-embodiment may be defined as the successful attempt at starting meeting human needs in a manner that is respectful of the biocycles of the body and the ecocycles of Mother Earth. These two types of cycles are intertwined since taking care of your body signifies taking care of the Earth, for your body is a reflection of the cosmos. Re-embodiment also implies that one's ecological footprint doesn't exceed local or, at the most, bioregional dimensions. That is, to successfully re-embody one's tread upon the Earth, the resources for the production of all the goods consumed must come from the surrounding area. In a similar manner, the waste generated in one production process must become a resource input for another production process, in line with permaculture principles.
The implications of re-embodiment are consonant with several aspects of an Earth-centric ethic, namely, slowing down the pace of life, reduction of needs towards sufficiency and self-reliance in the meeting of those needs.
SACREDNESS OF EARTH COMMUNITY