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On diveristy, monoculturalism, and spirit

by Jan Lundberg

The Earth is about diversity. Countless species have differences that matter critically for their and neighboring speciesí survival in unique habitats.

To oppose diversity is to oppose the Earth and life itself.

The error of massive industrialization and overpopulation is that other species are crowded out. In the short term this can maximize a group of peopleís food supply or other form of material security. In the long run we cut the web of life and thus our own throats as well.

The decrease in species diversity and in the variety of natural environments is a form of, and perhaps the source of, spiritual impoverishment. Nature is tantamount to spirit. It can be argued that the need for religions and spiritual paths apart from daily life came about only after the advent of civilization and loss of nature.

People are separated from nature and deprived of much diversity both mentally óthrough conditioning and narrow self interestóand through modern society. Society is today "rule by diversity-destroying economic forces."

The good news

The trend towards monoculturalism regarding species used for our food, as well as in human cultures, is starting to be offset by the new revolutionary movement revering nature and cultural diversity.

Sadly, cultural diversity is being reduced as you read this, thanks to the imperialistic spread of English and through technology such as satellite television. Aspiring consumers see images of happy, affluent, sexy young people engaging in new examples of pop music and dance. Or, a Mickey Mouse watch is given to a tribal person who also accepts a cotton shirt made in a distant factory, dyed with petroleum-derived chemicals. What is not perceived is modern societyís growing loss of individual leisure time and personal safety as stress spreads and accelerates. The pace of change toward monoculturalism gathers speed as the corporate profit machinery invades new lands, bringing Western culture and consumerism to traditional peoples. Languages go extinct each year as the last speakers die out. Stories and wisdom die with them, as does a reverence for the Earth.

Modern society is "rule by diversity-destroying economic forces."

However, family structures and blood loyalty remain intact in almost all nations but the most advanced technologically, especially the U.S. and Britain. It is in these extremely narrow, largely intolerant cultures that diversity is undervalued and even despised. The epitome of modern culture, exemplified by the U.S. nuclear family, produces interesting contradictions and dichotomies. For example, intra-family support gives way to shortsighted materialistic strategies of enrichment or petty diversion so as to separate people most likely to help one another. Elders are rewarded for their decades of devotion and hard work with removal to institutions that promise a dead end of death, especially in the "number one successful super power," the United States of America. In other nations, even replete with cars and other appurtenances of artificial living, family comes first, although to a lesser extent than before the advent of technological and disposable products.

The movement to save biodiversity started in recent decades with attempts to save threatened habitats such as forests from destruction by extractive industries. Now the strongest impetus is from foes of genetic engineering and from defenders of less industrialized peoplesí rights of food security and self-sufficiency. A corporate decision to eliminate "competition" in the form of seeds not under corporate control can reduce cultural diversity and biodiversity as much as four years of "education" for westernized students. Todayís students are already deprived of natural living, and inculcated with endless theory and skills designed toward manipulating nature out of existence for the sake of employment and profit. Thatís sustainable?

Alternative cultural force

The new pro-cultural diversity and pro-biodiversity elements of society, living outside mainstream society to the extent they can, are saving rare seeds, reviving knowledge on growing foods and fibers, and are practicing methods of cooperation and skill building in order to survive and create community.

Community decreases commensurately with loss of diversity, bio- and cultural. The roadblocks to enhancing diversity and sustainability are rampant materialism and greed, institutionalized almost everywhere that modern culture has a foothold. Peopleís fear of insecurity and of government/employer oppression keeps culture-changing activist numbers low. The plentiful supply of subsidized energy also discourages active, convivial living utilizing human, animal and other renewable power.

Put another way, as long as petroleum is available for almost everyone to transport themselves and "goods," and is available for growing and preparing a surplus of food, the masses of people do not question or challenge monoculturalism and industrialism.

Nevertheless, the World Trade Organization served to give a name and a target for active folk defending diversity and local self-reliance and for those interested in positive cultural change. Cultural revolutionaries generally believe that a meaningful political revolution is unlikely and in any case does not go deeper than surface change. We encourage the building of movements such as permaculture, defense of the Earth, and community living, as well as transcending the petroleum economy and any evils that go with it.

Very few of us wish to reject all new knowledge unearthed by modern society, nor abandon new techniques useful for compassionate living even when developed for corporate profit. However, many luxuries and conveniences and even "essentials" are going to disappear upon economic collapse or the equivalent discontinuity of business-as-usual.

The continuation of massive pollution and the burning up of our planet is a one sided war in which there is no winner. However, those who enjoy awareness and solidarityóin these times of unprecedented entropy and loss of speciesóhave positive feelings about themselves, the universe, and even, on occasion, the future of humanity. It is an objective of Culture Change to seek and provide more such happiness and realistic optimism. We constructively move toward sustainability at home and globally, through our own networks in the face of monolithic corporate and government opposition to diversity and freedom.

Culture Change mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
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Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit organization.