A Healthy Planet and Racial Equity -- Together at Last
With issues of great, some say grave political concern flooding the news and information zone with firehose velocity all the time, I’ve made an executive decision today to focus on just two: 1) the issue we call “the environment,” which conscious politics practitioners call “our environment” and 2) the issue we call “racial equity,” specifically as it pertains to Native Americans. With Thanksgiving upon us this week and November being Native American Heritage Month and all, it feels appropriate. Yeah, keeping it light.
I’m in the camp of Americans that believes we must, at long last, get serious about “cleaning up our environment” and adapting to climate change here at home. Then we can lead the effort worldwide because in spite of whatever one’s view of COP-26 was, it certainly fell short of the kind of bold and unambiguous action from any country or groups of countries that scientists and activists demand humanity take — to save humanity. (The planet, it seems, will be just fine without us.) I believe the dominant headline out of Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, at the close of COP-27 next year should read: “U.S. Takes Climate by the Horns/World by Storm at COP-27.” I believe stories should abound about how decisive, bold new action by the United States elevates the game, enlists new partners, lifts developing nations, and surpasses goals from the Paris Accords.
Everything is possible, after all.
I’m also in the camp of Americans that believes the moment is nigh for us to do, at long last, what we have never done in this country: act as though we, the people, have truly been created as equal to one another and act as though we all have the exact same right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. We do act as though the presences of Native American and all other non-White, non-Christian people can be denied, but they can’t. I’d argue that this is not about creating a multi-racial, multi-cultural American society so much as it is about allowing the one that already exists to exist in all its glory.
I further believe that these two issues — healthy planet and racial equity — plod along our political landscape when plodding will no longer do because of heavily entrenched political conflict between the two dominant political parties. In some ways they view things quite differently. For example, Democrats seem far more likely to accept the notion of environmental and racial violence perpetrated against communities of color throughout our history while Republicans assert that “there are no racist roads.” In other ways, the parties are often fully aligned with regard to putting the interests of industry and corporations ahead of the health of the planet and at the expense of communities of color. Bottom-line, if democrats and Democrats who support a healthy planet and racial equity continue to “fight” these issues in next year’s midterm elections and in the 2024 elections in the same old ways, well, the definition of insanity…
Old-consciousness me would have called this plan to address two major issues simultaneously as killing two birds with one stone. But new-consciousness me prefers to say we’re feeding two birds from one hand. A healing planet and tons more racial equity!
So what do we differently? Good thing we have the powerful new Congressional Conscious Caucus on the case. They say:
• While we are not the ones who, steeped in an entirely different consciousness, saw fit to degrade the planet long before anyone knew what was happening — and, shamefully, long after — today we take full responsibility for what is by prioritizing Earth’s health and well-being because we belong to the planet, not the planet to us.
• While we are not the ones who, steeped in an entirely different consciousness, saw fit to subjugate hundreds of Native tribes and cultures hundreds of years ago and, more recently, to “kill the Indian in him and save the man” by “forcing assimilation,” we take full responsibility for what is by doing everything in our power to integrate Native Americans into the fabric of modern American life because we have pledged to be compassionate toward all people.
• Indeed, today we introduce for public review a framework for legislation that imagines a new future with all members of First Nation tribes. It is an invitation to assimilation extended to all tribes with whom the United States has treaties — plus any and all indigenous people outside of the treaties — on behalf of non-Native Americans for Native Americans to come with every bit of tribal culture they have so it and they can be upheld and woven into a now-larger story of modern America from this day forward.
Love that Congressional Conscious Caucus!
And we could go much farther by asking Native Americans, with deep humility, to lead U.S. environmental policy for the next decade. By taking responsibility for the environmental destruction we non-Natives have caused and by asking for forgiveness for the incalculable damage we’ve done — in the name of our government — to generations of indigenous North Americans whose land we now call the United States of America, and by assuming a junior role in the project of overhauling U.S. environmental policy so non-Natives can all learn from people who never argued about whether or not to treat the planet with dignity and respect and whose nature it is to live in harmony with Nature, we may just shake things up enough to create some powerful new headlines about America and planetary health.
Old-consciousness me would have called this plan to address two major issues simultaneously as killing two birds with one stone. But new-consciousness me prefers to say we’re feeding two birds from one hand. A healing planet and tons more racial equity. And all we had to do was get clear about wanting more than plodding progress, decide to prioritize the health of the planet above other considerations, take responsibility for everything that is, hire some experts, stay focused on what we want, be compassionate, believe there’s room and a role for everyone, and be intentional about what kind of society we want to live in.
Happy Native American Heritage Month.
Speaking of birds…
Great column! Wonderful thoughts. Let's do it.
Truly brilliant, Steven.