Shivakumar recommended that when the Alternative Break students come they should spend some time in Nature. Nature is a vital part of Indian life. They do not have a concept of human civilization vs. wilderness. Reminiscent of Cronin’s thesis, humans are nature; it is impossible to separate the two. We westerners must retrain ourselves how we see ourselves in relation to nature in order to start shifting our behaviors. In India, people ask permission of the trees before they are cut down. Nature is respected, because we are showing ourselves self-respect.
Plants and animals all respond to love, just like humans. Living creatures are much more aware of their surroundings than we think, and they remember past experiences. I just watched a documentary called “I Talk to Animals,” about a California woman named Samantha Khury who communicates with animals, listening to their anxieties and concerns. She teaches others how to talk to their pets as well. The same idea of integrating humanity with the animal kingdom is key, people must not see the two as separate. She said that animals communicate through telepathically sending visual images. All one has to do is visualize an image of what you want to communicate. One woman who raised goats took a workshop from Khury. One of her goats used to kick the bucket over when she was being milked. The goat owner sent visual images to the goat. If the goat kicked over the bucket, she would pour the milk over the goat’s head. If the goat stayed nice and still, she sent an image of her lovingly petting the goat. She said after seven days of this, the goat stayed nice and still when she is milked! Fascinating, and it makes me want to try!
Another key idea I have learned about is motivating people to protect nature out of love, not our fear of global warming. When talking about environmental reforms, fear is not an effective approach. People do not respond to fear, it makes them want to exploit more. Instead we need to foster the love of nature that is within all our hearts. I have yet to meet someone who does not like nature.
Understandably, the issue of climate change overwhelms us. Yet we should not forget love is boundless; it does not know the meaning of impossible. This was a heartening idea for me. Carried out through a positive lens, sustainability efforts seem more hopeful. This might sound hippy-dippy to some, but stop and think for a moment. Of the people you know who work on sustainability issues, or even those who live conscientiously, do they do it lovingly or out of fear?
Last year when I worked with Connecting Eugene to stop the UO from building an office park on the banks of the Willamette River, I saw the committed hearts of unpaid, busy volunteers acting out of love. Last summer I drove to Portland with the Beyond Coal campaign, where a city board was determining the future of the Boardman Coal plant. Dozens of students and caring citizens testified (including Maneesh) in support of closing the plant. From all over the state, they prepared their testimony, traveled to Portland, patiently waited for their two minutes, making their voice heard purely out of love. When we hired the UO Student Sustainability Coordinator, Louisa Deheer, she stood out because she has a passionate heart and a loving attitude towards students and environmental protection.
Think about it: when are leaders most effective at passing policy or changing social behaviors? When you learn about environmental issues, what motivates you to action, learning about innovative solutions, or the threat of a flood or food shortage? Fear is powerful, but love conquers all.