Andrew J Green, writer
My aims and intentions ... briefly
These are my thoughts and articles about natural health, nutrition, sustainability, globalisation & multinational capitalism, technology (techno-scepticism), organic growing, natural birth, attachment parenting, education (particularly home schooling / home education / deschooling), social justice, politics ... and really whatever comes between and around all of these ...My aim is to inform, challenge and surprise you.
You can read more about me here ...
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I keep in touch with a lot of radical/alternative thinkers in the fields of natural health, nutrition, sustainability, globalisation & multinational capitalism, technology (techno-scepticism), organic growing, natural birth, attachment parenting, education, social justice and politics.
My intention is to make my Twitter feed and related articles on this site an essential summary of current thinking on these subjects.
Transforming The World – A holistic green vision for our future
These ideas have evolved - over time and gradually. No Eureka moment; no sudden flash of inspiration. But a dawning perception that the diverse strands of green thinking, on which I had been pondering and working for so long, could finally be drawn together.
These ideas challenge us to grasp the vision of a truly green, holistic future based - crucially - on trust, respect, stability and personal empowerment.
My personal journey started more than 30 years ago. Engrossed in modern fiction, I came upon the work of Doris Lessing. Not long before, she had started a series of books, using the medium of science fiction to express fundamental ideas about society and the power of politics and big business.
The first book in the series, Shikasta, left me with a feeling of revelatory excitement, I realised now that the World didn’t need to be like this: things could change.
Furthermore, the real agents for change could never be Governments or any other large organisations, not the multitude of “they’s” who “should be doing something about it”, but people - individuals and small groups. Concerned people, confident in their own power to effect changes that are needed and move us, slowly, imperceptibly even, but inexorably, towards a future fit for generations to come.
I came to realise, that personal empowerment is a fundamental requirement in greening our societies. We don’t attain a different society if the changes we make are forced upon us and we cannot even dream of a better World unless every step we take is along a road towards that dream.
For me, with hindsight, a long path had opened up. A path hitherto obscured by the tangled undergrowth of a successful career as a computer whizz-kid in an investment bank in the City. A tangle of money, over-consumption and a profound lack of awareness of just how heavily I was treading on the Earth.
It is with embarrassment that I look back and remember that I had covered the whole ground-floor of my house with tropical hardwood flooring and installed a new hardwood front door. Later, as an activist for Friends of the Earth, I calculated that to cover a floor with these wood mosaic panels requires the destruction of four times that area of rainforest and that to manufacture only one hardwood front door destroys at least 75 sq metres. A superficial beauty, hiding the real cost to other, unseen, parts of our World.
The problem was that I simply didn’t know about those unseen costs.
So the key to my work now - and, I believe, all successful and truthful work to raise awareness - is to unlock information and help spark people’s consciousness about just how much power for change they have in their hands. Not to ‘campaign’ by attempting to frighten or bully people into changing their minds or their practices, but instead work to inspire and enable them to make informed decisions.
“But you need to provide a balanced view” I was told, so many times. This is a plausible-sounding fallacy. On one side of the scales, thousands of tons of establishment, supposedly established, ‘facts’. On the other, a few light feathers carefully placed to suggest another way of looking at the problem.
However, given the profound lack of information with which people are provided, it is not surprising that we effortlessly slip into the resource-hungry state of The Consumer, sub-dividing the horizon of our lives into work, home and holidays. I know full well the urge to earn as much money as possible, to buy leisure and make my home a comfortable and pretty place to be in. The home is, after all, the only part of the world upon which the disempowered citizen of a western ‘democracy’ feels that he or she can exert any real influence.
It seems that the only thing that political parties can promise us is more and ever more, so it’s hardly surprising that we accept their glib assurances that all is well and continue to follow their implicit - or, now, explicit - instructions to consume our way out of whatever recession we are currently in; consume our way into a happy future.
What is presented to us is benefits with no cost - a delusion of grand proportions, this, but a delusion which we are encouraged to view as a fundamental reality.
I wonder now, with widening amazement, why it is not possible for us to see that our ever-increasing standard of living; our pensions and insurance policies continuously increasing in value; the economic growth to which we have become accustomed - that these have to stop somewhere?
When will we learn that, in our finite World, we can have nothing in infinite supply and that, if the countries of the developed world continue to grow richer, someone, somewhere has to grow poorer? Our over-consuminq, more after more after more, infinitely ‘growing’ lifestyle necessitates the destruction of the natural world and the livelihoods, even the lives, of people in our own and other countries.
We need to stop viewing the destruction of the ‘environment’ and the continuing impoverishment of the poor as unfortunate side-effects of our gross lifestyles. They are not side-effects, but rather the other side of the equation. Our wealth and others’ poverty are, in truth, two sides of the same coin; an equal-and-opposite reaction to our actions; an interwoven, entangled web of mass destruction of our fellow people and our Earth, masked by an increasingly transparent veil of luxurious growth and a promise of World contentment.
My urgent need is to put forward and inspire a broad, deeply-felt, all-embracing feeling of what being green is about. And, especially, to bring together viewpoints and ideas which have, until now, been viewed as separate issues.
I was shocked to discover that pesticides campaigners for a well-known environmental organisation were eating chemically-grown food. Food on which is sprayed the very chemicals which they - rightly - tell us are damaging our health.
I am bemused when I read a herbalist espousing the necessity for hospital birth, as if pregnancy is an illness; mystified by aromatherapists departing so far from their therapeutic base as to sell toxic, synthetic ‘perfume oils’, with the sad justification that that is what people want to buy.
Why are ‘plant-a-tree’ leaflets printed on paper from virgin wood pulp? What of the strange anomaly of solstice workshops ‘celebrating the Earth’, to which we drive 200 miles, safely cocooned from the wet and windy weather of that very Earth?
The more I looked and thought, the more restricted viewpoints there seemed to be - a great mess of loose ends crying out to be drawn together.
Unless these ends can be tied together, I believe that we will soon have no whole World in which to live. Unless the environmental movement; the organic and natural/slow food movement; the human potential and personal growth movement; the natural health movement; the natural birth and parenting movements; the free school and home education movements – and all those other groups and networks working towards their small part of a safer, saner World - can move forward together, our internecine wrangling will sap our energy and allow the current sorry situation to perpetuate and worsen.
I believe that we can all work together and see the whole and that holistic green thinking can help us to see our blind-spots more easily.
Caring for the Earth is an essential extension of caring for ourselves and those around us. Perhaps we can also start to feel a part of the Earth, such that any harm done to the Earth is a harm done to ourselves? ‘Deep ecology’, or holistic green thinking, is an expression of our respect for the intrinsic value in everything. It is also a movement towards our long-lost feeling of the Earth as sacred, the feeling that all tribal peoples have and a feeling engendered by a closeness to, indeed a bonding with, the Earth.
When I talk about being ‘green’, I am going far beyond ‘environmentalism’ – the now-mainstream over-familiar, supposedly green, themes with which we are bombarded by politicians and media commentators.
Living a green lifestyle also requires us to look after our own bodies: by eating wholesome, organic or naturally produced, food and using natural, holistic medicine, we treat the body, together with the mind and spirit as a whole. We thus provide the same level of respect and care for our own selves that we endeavour to provide for the wider environment.
We need to go further than our own lives and look at the lives of our children and their children. How best can we help them to attain a natural bond with the Earth, which, by contrast, we ourselves have had to learn so painstakingly? A secure bond with the mother is a prerequisite for securely bonding with (and therefore feeling a part of) the Earth. Treating childbirth as a natural function, which can be undertaken in the comfort and security of our own homes, will provide a sound basis.
And, in our society - which values independence so highly - we place a new-born baby who, so few hours ago, was actually a part of his mother’s body, alone in his new cot, in a lovingly prepared bedroom. Why can we not imagine the bewilderment, anguish and fear they must feel away from the familiar sounds of their mothers’ bodies? But we try to force independence on them, rather than keeping them close to their mothers’ (and also their fathers’) nurturing bodies, by day and night and then allowing them gradually, over several years, to move away from that ultimate safety and security into the World which is now their home?
Could a gradually attained independence - not forced, but allowed to happen naturally - instead produce a truly content young person? Could this then completely remove the fear of abandonment which leads us to create over-dependent adult relationships, use food as a neurotic comfort device and accumulate unnecessary material goods – all fruitless attempts in a search for an illusory contentment?
We need to look hard at education. How much respect do we show for our children if, as soon as possible, we abruptly sever them from their mother - who is their true source of creativity - and from their creative play - which seeks to express and explore that creativity - and force them into the unnatural environment of a school, where we attempt to indoctrinate them with our far from ideal adult values? Is it any wonder that children turn to drugs, vandalism and automatic rebellion, in frustration at this meaningless, compulsory socialisation and a dramatic disempowerment - at the very time when everything seemed possible and when life was filled with an all-consuming excitement and joy?
It is difficult enough to even make small changes in our behaviour, particularly when those changes might start to make us feel different from those around us. So, if we want to see real change in our World, I believe the best way to start to effect this must be to bring up our children such that they are confident enough to not have to express the same opinions as those around them, able to question received opinion and accustomed to thinking differently.
All this and more needs to be taken into account if we really want to build a true, holistic vision of green thinking and action. A vision encompassing all of what we do; where respect and care for ourselves plays a central part; where we have the ability and courage to step outside limitations and commonly-accepted practices; where we can grasp our personal power to make changes for the better.
By caring for and respecting the environment, by using energy and materials wisely and treating with respect ourselves, our children, all other people and the animals and plants with which we share our planet, we respect our place as parts of a whole World.
A spiritual bond unites us all, but it is also difficult sometimes to see the person behind the label. In order to work for changes in the World, we need a driving energy, but it is too easy to channel our change-desiring energy into an all too easily-justified anger directed at others, covering up a profound personal sadness and bewilderment at what we, as a human race, are doing to our World.
To be green is to feel part of our Earth; to feel pain at its pains - at the pain and despair of the forest, of poisoned animals, of frightened babies, of hopeless, disempowered people. To respect and care for ourselves - body, mind and spirit - and show similar respect and care for other people and the whole of our natural world.
To attain such an awe and wonder at what life is about and what makes it worth living, that we feel the burning, urgent desire to act to save ourselves and the rest of our planetary fellows - human, animal and plant alike.
Then we will be moving towards a greening of our society and our world, but not before. A holistic and undivided vision is there for us to grasp and when we have grasped it firmly, our hold will be so strong that it will pervade and transform our lives.
© Andrew J Green, February 2015