Whilst I write these words I am looking at images in the media showing violence and vandalism in the streets of Geneva. The motive, the WTO meeting (World Trade Organisation) that is being held in this capital city right now in November and the liberalization laws they hope to pass. Amongst the thousands of people demonstrating in the streets and the placards they carry all kinds of messages can be seen. Most of them mention, request, cry out for social justice, an end to poverty, better distribution of wealth and resources.
They all agree that people and the sustainability of the planet are the biggest priority. Amongst the core group of peaceful protestors, radical and violent groups have filtered through, they use the demonstration as an opportunity to perpetrate acts of vandalism, breaking the glass to banks and boutiques and burning cars parked in the streets where the demonstration is taking place. The protests and public demonstrations are one of the resources available to society to demonstrate their rejection and repulsion towards acts committed by the government that they consider unjust. In response to new international and transnational decision making systems, citizen based groups have increased to join voices as well as their protests. But, just as these civil protest acts help to make others listen and take notice of the way citizens and social groups feel, the presence of these other groups who use vandalism, violence and barbarity to demand legitimate objectives, undermine them because of the methods of protest.
I recall here that in November 2009 the prestigious advertising company JWT published its well known Ten Trends for 2008. One of these trends caught my eye particularly: “Blue is the new green”.
The analysts in this prestigious advertising network explained that climate changes have quickly turned into catalysers for environmentalism. People from all over the world, not just ecologist groups, have realised that the climate is related to the oceans and the sky, both of which are blue. In their trend spotting presentation the experts from JWT highlighted that ethical awareness amongst citizens has significantly increased and is beginning to spread around the world.
This reminded me that at the beginning of the 1990’s a new environmentalist group appeared: the “blues”. There is a connection between the blues of the 1990’s and the emergence of this new tendency 18 years later… It’s as if the new born blues of the nineties had come of age in 2008!
The blues were born in deepest Russia, as a result of the confluence of a poem written by a young girl called Nika Turbina, the poet Eugene Evtuchenko and the Muscovite teacher Gennady Bolgarine.
A couple of decades ago, the “greens”, overwhelmed by the alarming contamination of the earth, sea and air, fought against the immediate causes that were intoxicating the planet. The blues came onto the scene a few years later, but with no less impetus. They sought, in the first place, something different; perhaps a more audacious goal if that is possible: to fight against the true cause underlying the other causes identified by the greens. The blues took their first steps to highlight the anti-ecological nature of man himself, as this is what sets the powers that degrade the planet in motion.
The modern eco liberalism of old Europe comes from the liberal principle whereby man’s dignity and freedom is respected. But today, the very followers of this ideology have begun to question what freedom can mean and what it ought to mean if we take into account current socio-economic density and the ecological dangers that man can produce. From the blues’ perspective we would first have to inspect, why it is that men tear each other apart in an anti-ecological way; because firstly and foremostly it is man who is destroying himself.
In simplified terms we can say that while the greens protect nature, the blues focus on the individual and social ecology of human beings. They try to protect people from the absurd war they wage amongst and against themselves. They are convinced that the most dramatic thing is not the progressive destruction of rivers, seas and the atmosphere, but rather the blighting of peoples feelings and impulses. Paradoxically, people are evermore isolated, with less and less access to channels of real affection, respect and understanding. Effectively, the blues campaign for men to stop being so selfish, arrogant and unsympathetic, and that they stop stepping all over each other in their journey along the path to ultimate power. If this continues even the ones who win will end up building their thrones upon mere piles of rubbish, degraded realities: What a sad honour that would be! The fruit of all this type of activity is degradation. And let’s not even go into the “anti-ecology” of individuals caused by stress, alcohol, drugs or unhealthy ways of eating and living, insomnia or other abhorrent types of hedonism. We can only fix nature if we fix man first.
Our lack of control over this situation, as a consequence of our distorted ways of living together, becomes a kind of boomerang that works against our favour: the more we ruin nature, the more inhospitable it becomes to man, and in turn the earth becomes even more dispossessed and undervalued. In this way a vicious circle is created; we must break it with our courage, if not we have everything to lose, because nature will always come out winning. If man destroys himself, other species will always spring up.
Some scientists say that on a global level Planet Earth works like a living being . They confirm that nature has abundant hidden resources to survive the depredations caused by us, if it comes to it. They affirm that the Earth is capable of creating resources to favour the disappearance of that which is threatening it with death: in other words, the human being. However, we hope that the sweet water, the kind that the great ecologist Margalef used as a thermometer to measure how degraded we are, keeps on flowing fresh and clean from the springs in spite of everything. However, 18 years after the blues first appeared, they continue to look fearfully on at the passionate and vertiginous oscillation that our human species goes through today.
Dostoyevsky was not a million miles away from this tendency when he said in his dialogue with Duns Scotto in The Idiot that, in the end beauty will save man from disaster. And I am sure that the great thinker of Western Europe, Hans Urs von Balthassar (1905-1988) will also agree with them. The world’s beauty can only be fixed by man’s beauty.
When we rebuild our internal ecology this will give way to an overflow that will allow us to rebuild the ecology of nature and our environment; this will happen thanks to a change of mentality. The greens will not attain their objective without the help of the blues, whose collaboration would be best done beforehand rather than at the same time: let the blues come first to convert us to full abundant existence, more love to confront all the dehumanization we face today! Only in this way can we be efficient greens.
Scientists and humanists like Ralf Dahrendorf keep warning us that if in the last century the conflicts that made history were related to the fight for economic and ideological power, or community problems relative to social issues; this century will be marked strikingly by the ecological issue. And whilst many people have heard about Global Warming and its effects, few really understand what it means.
Whenever the environment is talked about one of the more forceful arguments that comes up is “the rights of future generations”. The need to campaign for the right of future generations to live in a more peaceful, more habitable and more sustainable world seems obvious. And this right coincides with the responsibility of today’s generations; perhaps if I say it the other way round it will be clearer: if we are not prepared to work together to create a more peaceful, habitable, etc. world for future generations… then we have no right to bring new beings into the world.
And yet, of course, the blues would say: How are we to be loving towards these future beings -who don’t exist and we don’t even know yet- if we are unable be so towards people alive today, who’s names and faces are known to us? If we fearlessly send our children off to war and condemn other people’s children to death and famine in the third world, what can be expected of us? Where are all the “human nature” ecologists? If the world is a rubbish tip, it’s because we are rubbish to start off with.
Having laid the foundations, brick by brick for a more peaceful and just form of community cohesion in its 10 points, the Letter of Peace addressed to the UN, goes on to broach the subject of the environment in the post data. It does so using these words. “It is the responsibility of those in power to concentrate on the common good of their contemporaries since they already exist and have a right to live with human dignity, without compromising the ecological balance of tomorrow.” Let’s all work for a good quality of life and strive for good practice amongst people. From here the quest for an ecological balance on this planet is sure to emerge.
Let us all do all that we can to make the world of today and tomorrow even more splendidly green and joyfully blue.
(This article was written at the end of 2009)
Hermosillo Peace Institute, Mexico