Earth Day is coming and there is an interesting debate UN will take up on the issue of “rights of Mother Earth.”
At first I thought this was a joke, propagated by the right leaning news media to poke fun of the environmentalists. Fox News made it sound like a terrible idea, as if we are putting down the bucket of water and started a prayer service for the fire that’s burning right in front of us:
United Nations diplomats on Wednesday will set aside pressing issues of international peace and security to devote an entire day debating the rights of “Mother Earth.”
All media bashing aside, I think the concept is a great idea and an excellent initiative taken by the UN. We need this conversation globally to really address some of our problems in the next decades. I’ve always felt our Sustainability problem needs be confronted on a much deeper level than just air pollution or global warming. Granted those are pressing issues, but to put those items on a pedestal is to miss a very important point: our crisis is fundamentally a problem in how we identify with our environment and how we treat the planet that nurtures us. I personally discovered my destination of Sustainability from a discovery in human rights and humanitarian laws. During my search exploration, I realized that we cannot come to appreciate each other and our environment if we cannot appreciate our existence with all living beings – Earth being the source of all those we define as “Life.”
Keeping true to my philosophical beliefs and my respect for Buddhist teachings, I find nothing wrong to have a serious debate about the legal status of our planet. While I don’t want to make it a new religion out of environmentalism or sustainability (as some who argued against this UN initiative and made fun of Bolivia for pushing for these legal rights), but what Bolivia has done should be applauded as a necessary extension of the International Declaration of Human Rights:
The Bolivian law establishes 11 rights for nature that include: the right to life and to exist; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered; the right to have nature’s processes free from human alteration.