Restoring the Earth Community ~ A New Perspective, Vol. One

It’s more difficult than I would have thought to make a YouTube video. Still, I think there were only ten takes involved, and not more than four or five late night editing sessions. sierra leone . Oh, and the computer crashes. . . I’ve decided to make a series of them for several reasons, figuring that it’s easier for a skeptic to watch a ten minute clip before s/he decides it’s worth buying my book. More important, the concepts carried in my book are dense, I’ve been told, and I believe it. And so the intent of this series is to lay groundwork for the conversation I am hoping to generate. Here’s the first of a series of five or six, and I’m hoping that others will add their comments to Judy’s response below (offered with her permission) and my comment which follows.

How do we even wrap our minds around the unlikely task of healing the earth?

I imagine the people reading this blog post are like me – little, seeming powerless, often paralyzed, and wondering what it is we’re trying to make right. So, I believe in little steps, in building community, in changing hearts.

For Reflection

Not long ago a video was posted by one of my Facebook friends. (This has a happy ending.) A dog, attempting to cross a very busy eight lane highway was struck and left lying in the middle of the lanes during a heavily trafficked time of day.

No one stopped, no one could. Another dog, undaunted (although I wonder . . . ) made his way to the wounded animal, and, with his own paws, dragged the injured dog across several lanes of traffic, to safety. What I wonder is this: what would it be like if humans understood our connection to the earth community with this kind of unquestioning – even innate – understanding that we are to help one another, no matter which form a life takes? As you go about your day and the days to come, think on this – “I am deeply connected to everything I see, hear, touch, and equally connected to what I am not seeing or hearing.”

What difference will it make in your life to know that the mouse, hiding in your woodpile, shares your life, your chemistry, your insistence on life. Write me about this; it’s very important.


  1. judy nietsche on April 2, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    “Wow! Truly remarkable. There is a question that always comes up for me when I watch and listen to such inspirational messages. Is it possible to even dare to hope that change is possible? Given all the tragedies in the world today, given the huge percentage of humans on the planet who don’t even have their basic needs for food and shelter met, given the greed and egocentrism of those in power at all levels and those protecting their own personal domains, how is it possible not to despair? Or is hope and working for change only a way to keep sane amidst the insanity around us? Personally I find this the key issue of trying to live an ethical life. Does the fact that I only buy fair trade goods, compost, recycle and all the rest really matter other than the fact that it makes me feel better? I see these acts as personal choices so that I can live with myself and try as much as I can not to be part of the problem. And I have the good fortune to be able to even make these choices. But I don’t see a solution, just the possibility of very short term feel good moments, band aids that may help heal a minuscule pinprick in the world. Yet still I’m open to watching and listening to videos like this one. Thanks Jean. Now I’m going to her website!”

    • caroline fairless on April 2, 2011 at 10:53 pm

      I probably won’t comment on every response to every blog post, but Judy’s question is not only critical, but familiar, like shoes that are giving us blisters. We know we have to keep walking but every footstep hurts. I believe we humans lost our way long ago; we usurped the top-dog place that was never meant to be ours. So I keep putting forward this a (clearly untested) hypothesis: if we could re-imagine our proper place within and intrinsic to what Carl Safina calls “the whole enterprise” – in other words, if we could re-locate ourselves within the biotic community, remembering our role and purpose, then yes, we could transform our world.

      It’s interesting to me that the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals – powerful and visionary as they are – list environmental sustainability as number nine, as though it were somehow distinct from all else, as though every other ill imaginable didn’t emerge from humankind’s forgetting our sense of place. In fact, ecological health and well-being is not something distinct and somehow unrelated to the others, but is the crucible in which the others are forged. Poverty and hunger, for example, exist because we have forgotten our place. Extreme imbalances in gender equality, health care, education, are the direct result from humans having claimed ourselves apart from and superior to the ecosystems of the planet. Devastating consequences of unbridled wealth, greed, and power gain momentum because we don’t know who we are.

      If I try to restate my hypothesis in a more positive way, I would say this: if humans knew ourselves to be a part of and integral to the web of all life that is interconnected and interdependent, we could not possibly inflict the damage we to do one another and the devastation we wreak on the earth community. The assaults are coming so fast and furiously in these days, that we can barely catch a breath before the next one comes.

      What would a just world look like? I read the words of Terry Tempest Williams every day, “The open space of democracy provides justice for all living things – plants, animals, rocks, and rivers, as well as human beings.”

      How do we get there? Well, I believe in tipping points. I believe in enough of us. So, yes, I’ll wave the banner for hope. And I’ll wave the banner for all of us simply being willing to dare to hope, which, if you think about it, is one step back from actual hope.

  2. Betty Bordner on April 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    The way that I see the shift that we are talking about and hoping for is internal. In order for me to re locate into a biocentric human being, my spirit has to re locate. Caroline’s book is such a provocative read for me that all I can do is envision how I would look and act and exist as that human. I so believe that vision and meditation in whatever form that takes for each of us. It’s inner change that is currently in process carrying me there. It may be hard to hope for the global changes we need but inner change for each of us is possible.

  3. Anne Feeley Kieffer on April 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I am so moved by this presentation. Clear and inspiring.

  4. Shandele on April 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Wonderful! I’m looking forward to the next four parts.. Thank you for sharing this insightful work

  5. Taintor on April 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. Caroline has it!

  6. Diane - Daily Walks on April 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    All change begins with one person and then another and another. The recent changes in the Middle East are an example of how incredible change is possible against all odds. Those changes did not begin collectively but with just a handful of individuals who strongly believed in what seemed the impossible. They spread their word, their beliefs and hopes and built up a movement that created and produced profound change.

    Caroline, you are that one of those individuals who are giving us the awareness and hope that change in our environmental mindset is possible. And with this change, healing of the earth is also a possibility. Thank you for having the courage to bring to our attention that all of this begins with us, in our thoughts and in our own hearts and that through us, only then will change begin to radiate out.

    I truly believe that their is hope for change, one person at a time. One person will multiply to many and then to the masses. We each will contribute via our consciousness, our conversations and our talents. This is how we will make the changes necessary to restore the waters.

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