By Dr Vandana Shiva
Care and mutual support are the currencies of life both in nature and society interacting together as a whole, sharing intrinsic values and inherent rights.
The Earth, Gaia, Terra Madre is a living planet whose rich biodiversity of life has evolved over billions of years and sustains all life. It is neither dead matter or raw material to be exploited and degraded.
Care of the Earth and of all life is our ethical and eco-logical responsibility.
Earth Care is the Economy of Life, Oikonomia.
In a period of ecological and social collapse and disintegration, healing and regenerating the Earth is the basis to restoring the human future.
- Care of the Earth and Earth Rights
Recognize we are one Earth Family, interconnected living beings, in all our diversity, participating in, and sharing a common web of life. Care of the Earth regenerates nature’s resources, biodiversity and economy that provide us with life and sustenance. The Earth and her ecosystem sustain us with oxygen to breath, water, food, clothing, shelter and medicine.
Industrialization, driven by fossil fuels and oil, is destroying Earth’s living ecosystems and has led to climate change, loss of life-sustaining biodiversity, disease, the destruction of forests and the extinction of plant and animal life, propelling us to extinction.
Respecting Earth’s finite resources is fundamental to an economy of care and to a caring humanity.
- Human Intelligence, Autonomy, Freedom, and Rights
Humans have been co-creating with the Earth, her biodiversity and with each other since time immemorial – a reality forgotten since the onset of industrialization and which we must now reclaim.
The Cartesian mechanistic and separative approach to all life has reduced humans to machines, to non-thinking and mechanical beings, responding mindlessly to imposed norms and stimuli. High-frequency technology and digitalization is numbing our brains and intelligence and eroding our inherent right to choose. Big Data, algorithms, artificial intelligence (Ai) and robotics are now imaging a future of farming without farmers, manufacturing without workers, education and information without teachers, health without doctors.
Economies of care are based on reclaiming our minds, autonomy and creative potential, to preserve our freedoms and our rights to work in service to the Earth, our communities and and future generations. Economies of care stimulate creative freedom, justice and cohesion.
- Regenerating Community
Life is a sensitive and caring communal phenomenon – in society as in nature. It is relational, not atomistic. Communities are where local economies of sustenance, health and wellbeing converge and regenerate. Relationships woven through respect and reciprocity cultivate creativity and wellbeing. Economies of care create harmony and prosperity.
- Reclaiming the Commons
Economies of care are based on reclaiming the commons and public goods – care of the earth and sharing of the earth’s common resources: the commons of seed and biodiversity, of water and land, of food and nourishment; and the public goods and services that societies have evolved through common responsibilities and common rights: knowledge, democracy, health, education, energy, transport, and shelter.
Privatization, patents and enclosures of the commons are a failed system of a colonial process based on extraction and greed and have no place in economies of care. The financialization and comodification of nature reduce the earth and her resources to financial assets, today controlled by billionaires and their Asset Management Funds, and aggravate the ecological crisis and imperil indigenous communities and small farmers who have always nurtured biodiversity and the Earth. Mother Earth is Not for Sale.
- From Competition to Cooperation, from Economies of Greed to Economies of Care, from Extractive to circular economies of the Law of Return
Cooperation and synergy are the basis of Care economies. Economies of Care respect Earth’s limits and are based on needs. As Gandhi reminded us “The Earth has enough for everyone’s needs, but not for a few people’s greed”.
Competition and greed violate nature’s ecological processes and destroy the capacity of ecosystems and communities to renew, regenerate and produce. Economies of greed, based on extractivism and competition, create scarcity, hunger and disease, disposability, unemployment, and violence.
Economies of care are based on circular economies, of giving, reciprocity, sharing and mutuality – the Law of Return.
Circular economies increase the creative and regenerative potential in society and nature. Systems of economies of care are circular, local, participatory and harmonious and lead to wellbeing and plenty.
- Diversity and Decentralisation
Globalisation has led to centralized control over the earth’s resources, centralization of control over markets and the degradation of quality – of the food we eat and the clothes we wear. Quality requires care. Economies of care imply decentralization and participatory democracy and encompass cultural and biological diversity which precipitate participation and localization rooted in relationships and affinity.
Economies of Care are based on equality, justice and dignity for all and are at heart of a Living Democracy of the people, by the people, for the people. No person or species is dispensable.
Economies of Care generate food for all, health for all, work for all.
Economies of greed are based on centralised control, uniformity, domination and creation of hierarchies and are a threat to democracy.
Greed promotes the use of care-less technologies that harm the Earth and her people and render people dispensable.
Earth Democracy is the democracy of all life in interconnectedness and participation.
- Consideration and Care for the Rights of Future Generations
Principles of Economies of care are founded on the visionary Seventh Generation Principle of the Iroquois Confederacy, the oldest living participatory democracy where the guiding principle for all policies is consideration and care of the next seven generations.
The Principle states “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations”.
- From War and Conflicts to Peace and Harmony
Greed and competition create conflicts over resources, wars over resources of the earth, and wars that destroy the earth.
To avoid ecological collapse and species extinction, we need to stop the warring against the Earth and make peace with the Earth, working according to ecological laws, respecting planetary boundaries and the rights of all species and all fellow humans in harmony as a whole.
Through Care of the Earth, regenerating and healing broken cycles and ruptured societies, we can make Peace with the Earth. Not taking more than we need is an act of peace. Caring for and sharing Earth’s gifts is the path to Peace.
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