Healing Our Culture's Abuse of the Earth, Part I


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Healing Our Culture's Abuse of the Earth (Part 1 of 2)
by Patricia Dines
Sonoma County Peace Press, April/May 2011, Page 1

(c) Copyright, Patricia Dines, 2011. All rights reserved.

As another Earth Day comes around, I'm grateful for the progress we've made in treating our planet with greater respect.
Still, my heart breaks seeing key eco-crises continue, including global climate disruption, collapsing fish populations, and permeating toxics that steal both our health and our wealth.
Thus I keep looking for new ways that I can help us steer more quickly away from eco-collapse, to protect all that's precious on this planet, including ourselves.
While there certainly are many possible remedies, I want to explore one I haven't seen discussed much: how understanding and applying the abuse model can help us heal our relationship with the earth.
Because what I've come to see is that abuse is common not only in American families (of all income brackets), but also in our workplaces, political structures, media perspectives -- and how we treat our beautiful and sacred planet.
The Abuse Dynamic
So what does this look like? Let me start with my definition of abuse, which I see as the intentional dominance of one person over another in ways that are demeaning, disempowering, and destructive to the second person.
I want to be clear that this is not about people being clumsy, imperfect, or having different styles. Abuse is a specific mindset where people see themselves as innately superior, take whatever they want for themselves with no concern for the cost to others, see only their perspectives as true, take no responsibility for the suffering they cause, and won't re-examine their approach. The abuser just wants the fun rewards without offering meaningful service in return, and freely punishes anyone who tries to negotiate any of this, perceiving them as "uppity" and ungrateful for not knowing that their proper place is serving the abuser. This approach often leads to violence, both by the dominators and those who resist, trampling many innocents, but the corrosive damage of abuse starts long before this.
Unfortunately, abusers can be difficult to identify because they cloak their dominating behavior in superficial charm, attractive dress, a big "life of the party" smile, and broad but vague words of affection for all. During this vital seduction portion of the game, we're swept up in the warm glow and can easily miss or dismiss our glimpses of the hidden control structures underneath. But, if we dare to question the inconsistent tale or refuse to be brushed aside with cheerful but simplistic answers, we'll soon feel the iron fist inside the velvet glove.
Expanding the Scope
I've come to feel that this mentality, used to control children and wives, is also expressed when economic elites fleece taxpayers and working folks, nations extract demands from other nations -- and our culture ravages the earth and its creatures. People of all political and cultural persuasions can participate in this psychology, from left to right, traditional to progressive, even those praising democracy and spirituality. We're all part of this system's normal.
One of the great ironies of abuse is that even the abuser loses in this game. Sure, they can con and force people to play along for a while, and perhaps even enjoy the luxuries of unearned wealth and glory (although it's usually amidst false smiles and hidden misery). But soon the wheel turns and the children escape from home, con men find themselves conned, terrorists discover the system's weak spots, subjects rebel, pyramid schemes fall, and the grand plans for empire crumble for lack of foundation. The recent toppling of Middle Eastern dictators is just another illustration of abuse's predictable results.
I also see abuse's outcomes in the escalating collapses of mother earth's sacred survival systems. As she's increasingly unable to absorb our reckless blows, everyone's survival is threatened, no matter how much money one has in the bank.
So how can we heal our abuse mentality to rescue ourselves and the planet? I'll explore that in the next Peace Press!
Patricia Dines has been a writer, public speaker, and educator for over 25 years. For over 15 years, she's specialized in empowering constructive action on community issues. For more about her work, see www.patriciadines.info.

FOR PART II of this article, go to www.patriciadines.info/a_PPHealing0611.html


Patricia Dines has been a professional writer, public speaker, and graphic artist for over 25 years, serving many thousands of people through her books, newsletters, articles, workshops, and more. For the past 15 years, she's specialized in environmental and community topics, bringing forward useful information that inspires readers, deepens their understanding, and empowers constructive action for a better world.

One of her current key projects is the Ask EcoGirl column, a syndicated eco-advice column with a geeky superhero twist. She also offers her "insanely useful" Ask EcoGirl booklet series, with nutrient-dense information on being green, and provides ongoing eco-information and actions on her Facebook page.

In addition, Ms. Dines is the Editor and Lead Writer of The Next STEP newsletter, which gently educates readers about everyday toxics and easy effective alternatives. She also writes regularly for NorthBay biz magazine and other periodicals, and has written seven books on local organics. She's been a guest on various TV shows, where she's shared her cheerful eco-info and tips.

For more information about Patricia Dines and her offerings, including her past articles and how she might serve your periodical or organization, see <www.patriciadines.info>

This entire website is (c) Patricia Dines, 1998-2011. All rights reserved.
Page last updated 06/03/11