In the USA we have just come through a long election cycle, which appears to have no end in sight. No matter where a person falls on any ideological or political scale, it is paramount for everyone to vote. Voting is one way to listen to each other, even if what we hear is unpleasant. Have courage, for we need to hear reality as it plays out in our neighbors’ lives.
My hope is that people participate in charting a course forward, and commit as citizens not just of the USA, but of the earth. Such a commitment leads to a vote not just for your candidate, but for life.
The challenge to this commitment means each voter must listen to all others – not just the media, or talk shows, or Facebook messages. A citizen of the earth must listen to all of life, and in this way, participate in something more than just democracy, but in vitacracy.
Vitacracy is a way of organizing our communities that is based on life. The needs of all individuals matter within the biotic community. Each individual of all species has a vote, and indeed does already vote by being part of the whole. We just need to acknowledge those silenced voices, tally their votes, and see where life leads us when we consider the needs of each and all.
Being open to others and affirming their inherent worth and dignity is no easy task. Our biology seems to be against us in this. The Robbers Cave experiment of the 1950’s and several other studies indicate how “once we are in a group, we think our group is the best and we think that the other groups are less good. And if we’re in competition with those groups, we begin to hate them.” (Liliana Mason on NPR, October 31, 2020). Identity is a prime human motivator and the most powerful identities are those whose status is being threatened. We are going to pick sides, and we are vulnerable to those in power who manipulate us to believe that we are under threat and the other side is evil or wrong.
So, we need to fight against this with all we have and see that we are all on the same team – life – and hence, why we need to vote for life, and not just for our individual team. Of course, this is really hard to do as our political and societal systems are structured in ways that dominate and oppress groups, seeking to gain resources for those in one group by taking them away from others. Each of us as individuals is enmeshed in this, and no matter how we vote or live our days, we bear the burden of responsibility (not blame!) for the massive harm done to so many.
In other words, political voting is necessary, but not sufficient. We must do more. We must work with the parameters of our human biology and our political systems to undo this sense that there are sides, groups, and teams.
To achieve this we need to practice, and practice hard, to rewire our brain pathways. We must do this so that, even on a subconscious level, we can choose life over team thinking that can be manipulated by our human biases. We need a greater connection to each other, and to all of life. One way to counter our biology, while also using it and reveling in it, is to go for a walk. Or if you are unable to walk, imagine that you are, or look outside, or even watch a video of a walk or a nature scene with wildlife.
Walks have so many benefits – they lead to greater physical and mental health, and greater compassion. Our bodies feel more connected to the earth, even if consciously we might be fuming about one thing or another. The positive benefits of a walk happen can help you even if you don’t want to go on a walk, but do it anyway.
At One Earth we lead Wild Walks to help people connect, but we have had to put these on hold because of Covid-19, which might continue to limit the size of groups for quite a while, even those meeting outside. Knowing how important walks are and how popular they were, we are now offering free, virtual walks. We only have two currently – one in Central Park, NYC and one in White Plains, NY. The walks are guided meditations with practices, which you can take by yourself or invite friends according to your social distancing needs. They are organized so that as you approach the each stop on the walk, a recorded audio is triggered and guides you. You can also read the guidance at home or on your phone through the tour service, izi.travel. You can find out more about the walks, and how to access them on your home computer or phone by clicking here. We’d love to make more, so please offer us feedback, so we can improve and broaden our design and reach.
Please vote for life every day. Take a walk, in person or in your imagination, for with every step you take, you are walking with the world, and voting for life.