What have we learned from our urgent debates on climate change, peak oil, fracking, war and financial collapse? Have we learned something other than paranoia and fear of system collapse? If that’s all we’ve learned, then we’ve lost the opportunity to awaken from our technocidal nightmare, to learn something profoundly meaningful and constructive. These crises provide us with the opportunity to learn the most valuable lesson of all, which is that we’re all deeply connected to each other and the earth. This is the hard lesson we’ve been avoiding in the over-developed West for over 500 years, and we’re paying the price for it now—and so is everyone else on the planet—in the form of energy depletion, economic collapse, civil war and a badly disrupted climate.
But we still have a chance to learn the one lesson that needs to come out of all this in order to turn our culture around and survive the crisis—we have to learn that we are deeply connected to each other and to the earth, that every action we take affects many other people and species near and far, now and long into the future. If our response is only to run away to an isolated village and attempt some DIY survivalist homesteading, then we haven’t learned that we’re all deeply connected. If our answer is to stockpile weapons for fear of attack by hostile ‘others’, then we’ve learned that we’re deeply connected, but only in the darkest and most paranoid sense.
Indeed, all we’ve been able to articulate about this connectedness thus far is that our energy, food and livelihoods are ‘over-connected’ and over-managed by a global corporate elite, and thus susceptible to collapse. That over-connectedness by corporate elites only chains us to their system, while it severs our consciousness and connection with the earth and each other. We are at war with each other and the earth while we rail at our corporate overlords. That is the dark side of connectedness, but it is a dark connectedness that divides us against each other, unable to feel empathy for others, atomized, isolated and afraid.
But there is a light side to this same dark awareness of our ‘over-connectedness’—we can begin to work through these same tightly connected networks to steer this culture in a new direction of other-centredness, of taking actions that benefit everyone, all species and ecosystems, not just ourselves and our immediate needs. We can take care of each other and all species with fairness and compassion. We need to learn this while we still have time. We need to use issues like climate change, fracking, peak oil, civil war and economic collapse to connect with all species of others empathically, to turn this culture around, to talk, sing and shout to the world that we are all deeply connected.
In the following short interview with Bill Moyers, Vandana Shiva talks about our connectedness with the each other and the earth.