Walking the Talk - An Approach to Social Justice, Green Politics and Druidry
Grant O God/dess..the knowledge of Justice,
And in the knowledge of Justice, the love of it.
from 'The Druid's Prayer'
Druidry is an earth-centred spiritual path that emphasises both holism and justice. As such an important aspect of the Druid’s way is the daily ethical choices we all face. This can mean exploring what has become know as ‘green politics’ and perhaps developing a ‘green lifestyle’. In accordance with the life affirming traditions of modern Druidry this does not come down to a list of ‘thou shalt nots’, instead this process is about living creatively, becoming aware of our own power and of considering the web of all existences in each one of our actions. Living lightly on the earth and with respect for all beings, is about using our ethical senses, the ‘knowledge of justice’ as the Druid’s prayer puts it, and of asking questions…
Here are some areas of our lives that we may choose to examine considered in terms of the five elements. There are lots of questions here but you are bound to be able to ask many others:
Fire – consider the energy that fuels your hearth and home, your chariot (be it car, aeroplane or bus) and your workplace. Where does that energy come from? Can you switch to a renewable energy supplier for your needs? Can you meet any of your fuel needs yourself? Is your energy used to good effect by being held by good insulation? And when the heat is on is it better to open a window or switch on the air conditioning?
Water – where does your water come from? Do you know the source and processes it passes through before it arrives at your tap? Can you make better use of the water you use, for instance by using old bathwater and a bucket to flush your toilet (rather than several litres of drinking water)? Can you harvest and store your own water for the garden. What threats might there be to the water in your region? What other animals, besides humans, use the water courses in your area?
Air – where does your information come from and what assumptions are carried in the sources of news you might choose to use? When you find out something good or helpful can you tell others and how will you do it? Is it possible to use resources, from active listening to those around us through to the internet, to learn about the ethical credentials of the companies you work for or buy from? Can we put pressure on our representatives to do more to nurture a just and sustainable world?
Earth – where does your food come from? Can you produce or gather even a little of your own food? Can you compost any food waste and reuse or recycle any packaging that comes into your home? When you work (for money or as a volunteer) what is the effect of what you do? If you have savings in a bank what does your bank invest in? If you use credit what is the effect of being in debt both to yourself and to others?
Spirit – There is no ‘one true way’ to live a sustainable and ethical lifestyle. Circumstances and cultures differ and the decisions we make can only be guided by what we know and what we feel. We may have made different choices in the past and may change our opinions in the future. It’s not as simple as organic food = good and nuclear energy = bad. What matters more is that we are able to see how our own actions affect others.
Why not try this meditation?
Select an object that has been manufactured or acted upon by humans. This might be something in the same room as you or something held in your minds eye. It can be anything from a landscape (such as meadowland) that has developed because of human activity, a building, a car, a computer – anything at all.
Spend some time in silent contemplation of this object and then work through each of these approaches to it. Use both your logic and feelings to give your answers but if there are questions that you cannot answer after the meditation, find sources of information you trust to find out more.
Consider the past of the object.
Where does it come from? From what component parts has it been created? What people were involved in its creation, how did they feel about this thing, what human emotions are connected to it? What did this thing cost me? Who reaps a reward from producing this thing? What do they do with the wealth this has given them?
Consider the present of this object.
Why is it here? What maintains it? Why does our society create such things? Is this thing of value? Who says so and why? Who dislikes this thing and why? What is my relationship with this thing?
Consider the future of this object.
What will happen in a week, a year, a decade, a century to this object? Are there more or less of these things now than in the past? What is the effect of this? How will this object change? If it is to be ‘disposed of’ how can this happen? What will happen to the parts it is made from? Can it be replaced and if so at what cost to whom?
Does this thing help create a world in which peace and justice prevail? What action must I take in relation to this thing?
By going through this meditation on several occasions, especially in your own home and in your immediate neighbourhood, you will develop a deeper sense of the connectedness of all things and especially of the ethical dimension of how we choose to live on our sacred earth. Eventually this meditation might become automatic, a moment-by-moment process where we can sense how our actions links us, in every moment, to the whole world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
Here are some information resources you may find helpful:
Ethical bank which offers savings accounts and investments. Finances only projects with social and environmental benefits.
Ecology Building Society
The Ecology Building Society - Mortgages and Investments.
Centre for Alternative Technology
CAT aims to 'inspire, inform, and enable' people to live more sustainably. A solutions-driven organisation, offering practical solutions to environmental problems.
Reports on issues of world poverty and inequality, and debates and campaigns for radical change.
Find permaculture resources, join the Permaculture Association, contribute a permaculture resource.
Looking at the ethics of the companies behind the brand names, Ethical Consumer is the essential alternative shopping guide. online articles, consultancy.
News, investigations and analysis from watchdog organization critical of corporate power.