On A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment

One of the defining features of capitalism is that it privatizes wealth, and socializes risk and responsibility. This feature pervades the way we think about capitalism, to the point where people blame “humanity” for the destruction of the planet rather than capitalism and colonialism.

I have mixed feelings about the petition/statement that was published recently, A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment. On one hand, there is a lot to like about it. I agree with pretty much all the cosmology of the effort; that “nature is sacred” and “we are part of the web of life” are pretty axiomatic to me these days. In addition, I respect several of the people involved with writing it.

But where I disagree with the statement — strongly enough that at present I cannot sign it — is that they blame “humanity’s actions” for the destruction of the planet. This is a tough issue, with a lot to unpack around it.

 There was some good discussion on this today, particularly from Alley Valkyrie:

“I refuse to sign a ‘community statement’ that blames ‘humanity’ for the destruction of the Earth. If you need details as to why, read the article below. I appreciate the effort put forth into the idea, and I want to be respectful towards those who worked on it as I love many of them dearly, but if we can’t name the elephant, we can’t actually do anything about that elephant.”

And Sean Donahue:

“Humanity isn’t to blame for the destruction of the planet — capitalism and colonialism are. To blame the species as a whole for the ecological crises we face is to blame the oppressed and the colonized for what global systems of domination enact on them. And its also to engage in a fruitless despair that obscures the reality that other worlds are possible, that it is not “human nature” to devastate the living world. Until we are willing to name the systems responsible for the destruction we are witnessing and until we can begin to imagine life outside those systems, we will see ourselves as prisoners on a train hurtling toward a cliff. But once we recognize where we are we can grab the controls and steer a new path.”

I want to sit with this statement for a bit longer, and think more deeply about it. At the very least I am happy to see some in the pagan community at least paying some attention to these matters.