One comprehensive definition of the concept of peace was identified by Fischer, Nolte & Oeberg in their book “Winning Peace”:
“(…) all that aims to develop security and secure development of the whole human being, and all human beings, in a permanent process, taking its point of departure in a model of human and social needs based on an ethics of global care and allowing for unity in diversity.”
The phrase “an ethics of global care” is an important reminder that peace is measured not only by human-human relations, but by the quality of human-nature relationships too, namely humanity’s interactions with the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. Humankind’s desire to dominate the environment with scant regard for the consequences has led to a growing scarcity of natural resources, pollution of the Earth’s waterways, sickness in animals necessitating mass killings, worrying changes in climatic conditions and devastating natural catastrophes, etc. To counteract this negative trend, human beings – at the macro and micro level – have the choice to assume their role as conscious and dedicated guardians of the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms; rather than to continue using violence and domination to master the Earth, jeopardising the world heritage of future generations.
Extract from my MA thesis entitled:
A Shared Human Identity – the Foundation of a Peace Culture
Hotels have been advocating the responsible use of towels for years. Hang them up if you’re willing to use them again, or leave them on the floor for a replacement. But what about the complimentary soaps? The ones hotel guests leave behind after checking out even if they’ve hardly been used?
Thanks to the Basel-based SapoCycle Foundation hotel soaps throughout Switzerland are now being recycled in a way that not only benefits the environment, but also saves lives and provides jobs. That’s definitely amazing enough to put a smile on my face!
Dorothee and Rudolf Schiesser set up SapoCycle in 2014, and already more than 40 hotels across Switzerland are contributing solid soap bars to the program on a regular basis. Moreover, 25 Swiss hotels from the AccorHotels Group have just joined the scheme.
Participating hotels are responsible for collecting the used soap bars and sending them on to SapoCycle partner WohnWerk. This organization takes care of the recycling, thereby creating jobs for disabled people in Switzerland.
The recycled soaps are then distributed to countries with high child morbidity and mortality rates caused by acute lower respiratory infection and diarrheal illnesses. Did you know that more than 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die each year from these illnesses, which could be prevented by hand washing?
Through numerous, relatively short-lived relationships with men, Joy had been forced to learn detachment and how to stand on her own two feet. She had discovered that relationships referred to something much more encompassing than mere intimate relations with members of the opposite sex. There was the relationship that existed between each man and woman and the rest of the human race, for example. And beyond that, Joy was learning to sense the relationship that existed between her self and the Soul – the human Soul; not her individual soul, which was another illusion created by the limitations of the rational mind. Even more encompassing was the relationship between humanity and the planetary entity, or greater still, the larger cosmos. When she looked up at the stars at night, Joy experienced a sense of revelation. How short-sighted it was of humans to go about their daily lives without due consideration for their place in the universe. This wider cosmic perspective on relationships was paralleled by her contemplation of the smallest aspect of her being – the cells in her body that were, in essence, nothing more or nothing less than energy. Continue reading →
Nature offered human beings a space where they could more easily align with what might best be referred to as the one Life. By this Joy meant the Life that animates all the kingdoms – mineral, plant, animal and human – making out of their component parts one whole. This Life energy remained a mystery to the human mind. It originated from the non-visible world and surrounded and imbued the four kingdoms. As such, nature offered human beings the opportunity to more easily reach beyond the limits and divisive tendencies of their conscious minds, and thereby gain an intuitive understanding that humanity is a part – although only one part – of a greater existence.
The destruction of the environment by human activity was to Joy an indication of just how far off the spiritual track human beings, controlled by their lower minds, had wandered. Nature was a gateway to an authentic awareness of humanity’s place in the greater scheme. The rational mind, fearing its own annihilation, was driving men and woman to destroy that gateway – the door to their liberation.
Both Tantra and Taoism point to the power of Mother Nature as a spiritual doorway, a healer and a part of our intrinsic identity. The globally renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado captured the suffering of humankind and the Earth in his various photo collections. He used photography as a medium to document starvation in the Sahel region of Africa, genocide in Rwanda, the plight of internally displaced persons in various countries, and the burning oil fields of Kuwait – to name just a few of the hugely distressing subject matters he covered. Following years of photographic documentation of these kinds of human and environmental tragedies, Salgado was at the point of giving up his work. As a result of all the horrific situations he had witnessed and experienced, he felt worn out, deluded, depressed, without hope. Fortunately, he eventually regained a sense of inspiration. His salvation came from Mother Nature. He decided to photograph the outstanding beauty of the Earth – wildlife, landscapes and seascapes – as well as the joyful and meaningful existence of indigenous peoples. He remained true to his calling, namely, the raison d’être of his photographic documentary work was to raise public awareness about critically important global issues, in this case the environment and climate change; however, he chose to do this through the lens of the blessing that nature provides to humanity, rather than to focus on the destruction of the Earth through human ignorance, greed, etc. Continue reading →