By Geoffrey Holland
To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms, we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny
The idea for the Earth Charter first emerged in 1987, and atter a multi-year process that included distinguished leaders like Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev, was refined and finally presented to the world by the Earth Charter Commission in the year 2000. It is a document built on sixteen principles that offer a solid foundation for building a new human era that is life-affirming and sustainable.
The reason we humans need a bold new start should be abundantly clear to anyone who has been paying attention to events, particularly in recent years. Words that apply: climate change, extreme weather, food insecurity, toxic chemical contamination, violent territorial conflict, human overpopulation, and global biodiversity collapse. The world we know is coming apart at the seams.
Humanity is in big trouble in so many ways all over the planet. We are entirely responsible. We must be the ones to forge a transformative new direction.
Humanity in the twenty-?rst century now faces the greatest test of our collective wisdom in our million-year ascent. Whether we succeed or fail is entirely in our own hands, minds and hearts, not just as individuals or nations, but as a species.
~ Julian Cribb, Surviving the 21st Century
The Systems View of Life
The traditional scientific view is that all of life and the universe we know function like mechanical parts of a machine, and we tend to view the parts in isolation.
More recent evidence suggests that all of life and reality are substantially connected.
Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao of Physics, says that the fundamental dilemma in the traditional view of reality is the illusion that you can have unlimited quantitative growth on a planet with limited resources. The current economic system requires constant growth to function, which can only result in the exhaustion of our Earth’s supply of essential resources.
The wiser course, based on a systems view of life, would shift the emphasis away from quantitative growth to Qualitative Growth, which Capra tells us is ‘the kind of balanced, multi-faceted growth we observe in nature where certain parts of organisms, or ecosystems, grow, while others decline, releasing and recycling their components which become resources for new growth. Qualitative growth is growth that enhances the quality of life through continual regeneration.’
The Earth Charter principles encourage a life-affirming, qualitative growth paradigm that emulates and complements nature’s grand design.
Leaders guided by the moral compass of the Earth Charter should be called “Earth leaders,” rather than world leaders, because their vision is the well-being of humanity and of the larger community of life on Earth, rather than political, economic, or corporate success.
~ Fritjof Capra, Systems Scientist