In light of the recent protests for racial justice we took the opportunity to reflect. Every religion and worldview must account for basic questions such as: Who are we? Where did we come from?
The image of Gaia reflects unity: there is one Earth, of which we are all a part. Within that unity, there is a vast (though tragically diminishing) biological diversity; within the human family there is racial and cultural diversity. We celebrate that diversity, and in recognition of our fundamental unity, we work for equity in solidarity with our fellows.
The Gaian perspective is evolutionary and ecological. All life on Earth is likely descended from one single-celled organism. Life evolved over eons, with diverse species in reciprocal relationships. Humanity emerged in this process. We are all one family.
We prize science as a way of knowing Gaia and all of which Gaia is composed. Modern science finds no significant biological differences among the various races of humankind. Racial differences are almost entirely a social construction. This in no way diminishes their significance; humans are social animals, and our social structures have consequences that are very real.
We derive our sense of justice from Gaia: we come from the Earth, we return to the Earth, and for the time that we are alive on the Earth, we should share the Earth. Ecological thinking entails a systems approach. Social systems which privilege one race over another are a perversion of Gaia’s order, having developed for the purpose of extracting resources from the Earth to disproportionately benefit an elite few.
Gaians oppose racism; we work to dismantle the current systems of racial supremacy and to establish a more just, equitable, and sustainable society.
This is a working document, crafted by Bart Everson. We welcome your comments, suggestions, expansions, and improvements below.
This notion of “Gaia’s order” needs to be investigated, interrogated, explicated. Any concept of order and deviance is fraught with potential for abuse and misunderstanding.
Thomas I. Ellis
Thank you for this. I would like to contribute one very Gaian quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that sums it all up very succinctly:
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This sentence (from the Letter from Birmingham Jail) could in itself serve as a summation of Gaianity.
Will there be any proof of this unity? When will the browns come forward and pioneer with all of the white gaia speakers? Or will this just be what they say until we all enter like everything else? MLK, he was a brilliant man but also, he was a person who like many no matter what race, died at a young age for going against the grain.
Is it possible to really see the unity or will the people therein be non-practicing gaia participants!? It is so hard to believe there is unity in any place, sect. Human people are like the Lion. Come soft, fight hard.
Excellent questions to which I admit I have no answers. I do hope that Gaian (and thus globally focused) spiritual communities not only move beyond superficial differences between skin colors and cultures, but even beyond anthropocentrism and human supremacy.
What happens to this religion when we go to mars?
Not sure if that’s in jest or serious, but I’ll assume the latter.
First: we will never live on Mars as we humans are too fragile and too dependent on our living planet (and the countless bacteria, viruses, fungi and other life that make up our bodies and environment) for long-term living on a dead planet. But assuming we get beyond our adolescence and terraform other planets (a process that’d take millions of years) the goal would not be for us to live there, but to serve as midwives to the birth of new living planets, complete with their own complex webs of life. Yes, homo sapiens are no longer the center of the story, but that is when we earn our name (wise)–as we are not nor never were the center of this planet or our solar system or the universe.
G. R. Buckley
This post is in response to Mr.Assadourians’ previous post concerning “ to serve as midwives to the birth of new living planets.“ I first discovered Lovelocks’ books with a description of Gaia in the early 1980’s, after I had read Gerard O’Niells book “The High Frontier“ with its description of miles long space settlements to house our human industrial society. It has since occurred to me that perhaps we humans, as the children of Gaia, do have a meaning and purpose to our lives, perhaps we could be (more than merely the stewards of Gaia) the midwives to the building of parts of Gaias’ biome beyond the surface of the planet. All living creatures reproduce and given the fact that Gaia is alive and vulnerable to a variety of disasters we may find it advantageous to all life on the planet to build living Gaian settlements in space.
Just to be clear–I do not think humans should ever colonize space (even if it was possible, which as we are part of Gaia and dependent on hundreds of thousands of different of microorganisms–just in our own guts–I don’t think is). But we can act as the reproductive organs of Gaia, helping send out spores to seed new (non-living) planets to become living ones. I’m imagining sending extreme bacteria to Venus, for example, so that in a hundred million years, perhaps life will thrive there too (long after humans have come and gone). The ecological cost of getting humans off the planet and our fragility, and our dependence on Gaia, suggests it’s a fool’s errand to focus on human space travel.
G. R. Buckley
I have been thinking a lot about your reply to my previous post and I totally agree with most of what you are saying. We should definitely not attempt to colonize other planets, not only because of the difficulties involved but also because we will destroy possible signs of life which may be hidden on a pristine planet. We need to leave other planets to future noninvasive scientific study. Still we do disagree about human space travel and to that end I will make one final argument.
An Argument for a New Meaning and Purpose for Human Existence:
Earthrise, the 1968 photograph shot on the first manned orbital mission to the moon by an Apollo 8 astronaut, was the first color photograph of our whole planet to be shot by a human no longer on it. In 1975, the book GAIA, A New Look at Life on Earth was published, written by James Lovelock, an independent scientist and inventor of the electron capture detector. The book puts forth the idea that life on earth functions as a single living organism which defines and maintains the conditions necessary for the continued survival of life over millions of years. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines life as “an organismic state characterized by the capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.” Of these four criteria, only reproduction is not applicable to Gaia, at least not without help. Of the many benefits that arise from reproduction, evolution and continued species survival are perhaps the most important. Gaia has experienced at least five major mass extinctions throughout her life and another human caused one may be occurring now. There have been many explanations regarding the reasons for the occurrence of these mass extinctions (volcanism, asteroid impacts, galactic dust clouds, etc.), but Gaia has always bounced back with new evolutionary responses. This is not to say that there aren’t other dangers to be encountered in the future or that some of them might not end all life on earth. So from the perspective of life on Gaia, the reproduction of the Gaian biosphere in space off the planets’ surface would increase the chances of life surviving.
In 1976 the book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space was published, written by Gerard K. O’Neill which explains how humans can move their industrial manufacturing society off the planetary surface by creating Earth like biospheres in space. The constant solar wind would blow any of the waste from manufacturing out of the solar system and the weightlessness would allow for the production of new materials. Although many creatures on our planet use tools, human animals are probably the most proficient that has ever existed on the planet. Building huge space habitats and recreating inside a Gaian biosphere would be a herculean effort but one to which human animals are supremely adapted. The science we would have to learn would bring us closer to a clearer understanding of who Gaia is and our part within her. And finally, it would provide humans a scientifically based emotional/spiritual meaning and purpose for our existence.
To be clear, I am not against space travel: when it’s for the public interest (learning about space, about planet Earth, setting up satellites for communications (though not blanking Earth with them), and so on). I am very much against space tourism–which is a horrific waste of resources and source of pollution. And against promoting the idea of human space colonization. I do not think it’s realistic to establish space colonies, and even if it were, it is ecologically costly, with minimal value (especially when those billions should be invested in healing Gaia), and even dangerous. At this moment, if we ‘conquered space’ (again not that we will) we would probably act as parasites on other worlds, identifying living planets and colonizing them (disrupting their ecological balances as we did). And there is no settling dead planets. But I could be convinced, if possible, to terraform Venus (after a few generations of intense study especially confirming there is absolutely no life there) in order to create a living sister planet (complete with its own evolutionary path) and eventually even figure out how to seed far off planets. However, even that rings of fiction and planetary hubris (or an expanded form of human hubris). Not all life reproduces–perhaps Gaia is among that list. Maybe our goal is to simply sustain Gaia and help her live a long life (or at least not accelerate her early death).
Due to the cult like origins of religions, I am a bit uncomfortable with the thought of respecting the Earth from a religious perspective, but to my knowledge, humans have not matched the impact that religions have had on our species. So, I could favor this approach, so long as it is based on science and truth, and not on myths, fables and unknown all powerful imaginary entities. Since the Earth is solely our one and only source of existence, I do believe we should be respecting it as much or even more than religious extremists respect their gods. We should be viewing it as a form of life that is still beyond our full knowledge. We should be seeing ourselves to be positive or helpful microorganisms or at the very least neutral micro organisms of the Earth, yet we are clearly destructive parasites. Though there may be some humans who live in harmony with the Earth, it is my hope that humans never gain the capability of space travel until the entire species has evolved to be a positive microorganism. Until we gain that responsibility to the level it is instinctive, we are not responsible enough to be allowed to touch(infect) other entities of the universe. I do believe we should explore, investigate, invent and learn all we can about the Earth and space, but until we can do all those things responsibly and prove our responsibility through the good health of the Earth and proper balances of all life on our world, we should not be allowed off this planet.
I am in complete agreement with your statements. Religion is powerful and why we’re working to create an Earth-centric religious system based in a scientific understanding of the Earth–a holistic Gaian science. While there is a spectrum of beliefs even in our small community, the foundational belief is that we are part of and utterly dependent on the living Earth, and must live accordingly (i.e. ideally as mutualistic ‘microorganisms’ of Gaia, or at least commensalist, as you note, but definitely not as the parasites we currently are.
It is obvious that what is stated is correct and true.
In light of what has transpired in History recently
And having witnessed things I never could have imagined on TV and in the press.
I am amazed and astounded how stupid and gullible millions of people can be.
Racism, hate as well as love and understanding are taught at home, end of story
Thanks for your comment, Bob.