Saturday, December 1, 2012

When did "Mother" become a dirty* word?

Today I attended a well-organized climate rally on the snow-covered Amherst common called "Colleges Against Climate Silence Rally." It was described on the facebook page as "a way for all those feeling frustrated, angry, and disillusioned with the silence to channel our energy and passion towards a constructive end." One of the solutions highlighted by event organizers was the new "Fossil Free" divestment campaign. In  my opinion, this campaign is one of the most exciting strategic moves I've seen the climate movement take, a legitimate threat: hit them (the fossil fools) where it hurts, the pocket. (You can read more about the campaign, here)

I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of analysis provided by speakers at the event. Most notably: one young woman explained what is meant by "climate justice" and how central it is to our efforts. Another young women made the connections between capitalism, colonialism, and the exploitation of the planet and its people.  To be honest, I did not expect to hear the word "colonialism."  I was sure to share with her my gratitude.  

To top it off, I saw two young men, each wielding a black flag in one hand.  With their other hand, they together held a large banner, which, without fully reading, I immediately recognized as the slogan of Earth First! I felt a wave of excitement for a movement finally getting to the root of the problem.

Earth First: No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth
Upon closer examination, however, I realized that one particularly important word had been omitted from this banner, "Mother."  It read, instead: "No Compromise in Defense of the Earth."  I had to ask about this.  I said "I love your black flags, and the message of this banner.  But I noticed you modified the Earth First! slogan by dropping one word.  Why did you feel it necessary to drop the word 'Mother?"

The young man said matter-of-fact-ly, "sometimes when you use the phrase Mother Earth people think you're crazy."  

"Yea, like no one's going to think your crazy waving an anarchist flag," I thought to myself.

I said, "Or you could be indigenous, or be someone who has a biocentric worldview..."

"Well I'm an athiest, so I didn't like that phrase," the young man on the other end of the banner added.

I replied with something like, "all spiritual connotations aside, is it not an appropriate metaphor to regard the Earth as your Mother?"  (After all, what would you do to defend your mother?)  

I ended the conversation there. I wasn't going to try to convince them or change their minds, at least not here, in this setting.  But I may decide to attend a meeting with these folks, to try and examine with them the significance of this negative stigma on the use of the phrase "Mother Earth." I think it goes beyond a matter of effective messaging.

When did "Mother Earth" become a disagreeable term?  I'm no historian, but I would venture to guess that it initially received a negative connotation not from atheists, but by God-fearing men who sought to conquer the Sacred Feminine in all her manifestations. The ancient matriarchal and gender-balanced Earth honoring cultures had to be destroyed before the Earth could be fully exploited.  A people who respect the Earth as their Mother would never allow her to be raped for profit.  

The Earth IS our Mother. This can be understood without spiritual connotations. As a species, we emerged from her womb. She holds us all. How does this not make sense? 

This is about our own disconnection from the Earth.  It is this disconnect which is at the very root of our problem as a culture and now as a planet.  We are disconnected from Creation, out of step.  We have forgotten how to live with the Community of Life. 

I hope that I can encourage my fellow Earth Defenders to reclaim their heritage as children of Mother Earth.  Know that we will do anything to defend Her.  Know that the momentum of all Creation is pushing us towards our maturation and development into a species that is once again a contributing member to this Web of Life.

If that all sounds too crazy or "too radical," well maybe that's the point. We need a radical change of paradigm if we're going to survive.

*hmm, for that matter, when did "dirty" become a dirty word?  meta.

1 comment:

Ukumbwa said...

Very key points arising from a very interesting interaction...Mother Earth is the reason for the seasons. This paradigm shift IS the key shift that is necessary for our sustained life with All Our Relations. Our christian filters are not allowing us to really deepen into the appropriate consciousness again to truly seat ourselves in the lifeways that are necessary for an intelligent humanity with a Mother that loves us more than we can fathom. Defndning her is our sacred duty.