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March 23, 2005

Pachamama What?

Pachamama Alliance, an organization focused on bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on this planet, held a symposium in the Bay Area this last weekend that I attended along with about 150 other people from around the country.  The organization itself was founded ten years ago by Lynne Twist, a prime mover of the Hunger Project and the author of The Soul of Money and her husband, Bill.  They and their organization work in partnership with the Achuar people and other indigenous tribes in the Amazon region of Ecuador to aid them in protecting the rainforest and their way of life.  Pachamama is a Quechua word referring to sacred Mother Earth, all time, all space and the universe. 

Out of this partnership has come a broadened mission and the second part of their work, the part that began publicly last weekend: the work of changing the dream of the people of the North.  They say,

From the beginning, our indigenous partners have reminded us that one of the most powerful actions that can be taken in support of the rainforest and its inhabitants is to “change the dream of the North,” since it is our dream – our desires and appetites – that is driving the destruction of the rainforests around the world.  Ultimately, to assure the long-term survival of our rainforests, and indeed of the natural world and even ourselves, we need to address the core values and ways of seeing the world that are deeply imbedded in our modern worldview.

Read more here after the fold or check out their website.  And stay tuned. Those of us from Seattle who attended this will be working with others to bring a similar symposium up here sometime this year.   

I have for years grappled with integrating the seeming contradiction between my deeply felt Buddhist beliefs about lack of attachment to any particular ideas or beliefs and my passionate concern for democracy and social justice, for involvement in the political realm and for protecting the earth for those who come after. 

So, for very personal reasons, I was thrilled to hear of the symposium and even more thrilled to attend.  This is a group of people that has been infused with the sacredness of the earth, most likely from dealing in a fully respectful manner with peoples who see the world in a very different way and live that sacredness on a daily basis.  The organizers are also infused with a respect for all people – including the polluters, corrupt politicians, technocrats, and people with their head in the sands. 

In the daylong symposium, they talked about social justice, sustainability and spiritual fulfillment.  They want to be a part of bringing these three together into the public conversation, having heard so little about any of them in public discourse in this country, even in the latest election.  They want to balance the gifts of technology and modernity that the developed world brings with the gifts of connection to the earth and to community that indigenous peoples bring. 

They mentioned a rule that the Achuar people have that they will never do anything that harms future generations.  Then they shared information related to social justice and sustainability, information that we may have heard but rarely allow ourselves to take in fully.  And information that reminds us of how far away we are from the rule that the Achuar people live by. 

Here is the most chilling of the many facts they presented to help wake us up.

In the years 1968 -1970, there was the least discrepancy in wealth between the richest and the poorest peoples in this country and in all countries on earth in history.   Now, in 2005, a mere 35 years later, the discrepancy between richest and poorest people in this country and on earth is the greatest it has ever been in history.  There are 500 billionaires on earth who, together, have a combined income of the bottom half of humanity.  We as a people are going back to a feudal time.  And following that massive increased discrepancy, all the social justice indicators are going in the wrong direction: numbers of homeless people, people with health insurance and access to health care, birth rates and on . . .

Pachamama Alliance is working out a program to help wake us out of the trance of privilege we live in.  It is a worthwhile endeavor.  Anyone who would like to be a part of bringing this symposium to Seattle sometime this year can contact me.        

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 23, 2005 at 02:26 PM in Miscellany | Permalink


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