There are signs everywhere that the modern dream of hyper-individualism, unlimited growth and consumption, is coming to an end. Its pathologies are overwhelming our future. To maintain this dream, we are told by our nation’s military leaders to expect perpetual war for at least three generations. To maintain this dream, our governments are increasingly controlled by corporations which are given constitutional rights at the same time that the rights of natural people are restricted and denied.
To maintain this dream, oppression and exploitation have become the foundation of profits. To maintain this dream, the rights of labor are hollowed out and wealth is concentrated by the 1 percent at the expense of the poor and declining middle class. To maintain this dream, indigenous lands are transformed from forests serving as the lungs of our planet into wastelands resulting in the cultural genocide of the world’s first peoples. To maintain this dream, climate catastrophe from global warming is inevitable. Around the globe we are experiencing floods, droughts and wildfires. Forests are disappearing, Arctic ice and glaciers are melting, oceans are rising, coral reefs are dying and species are becoming extinct. The American Dream is a myth, no longer possible even for Americans.
We need a collective awakening to an Ecozoic era where human-Earth relations are paramount. Human presence on our shared planet must be environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just. The first task is to break the trance of the modern dream and shatter the illusion that we have created a system that we cannot control. Polls show the public is already waking. Regardless of party, 84 percent of Americans believe there is too much money in politics; 87 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Independents and 68 percent of Republicans said they would support an amendment ending corporate personhood; and in 2013, over 80 percent of American’s polled felt that global warming was a problem with 52 percent saying it was a serious problem.
These are fertile grounds for activists working to create a new dream. The Global Climate Convergence (globalclimateconvergence.org) is an emerging movement that has rallied under the slogan “People, Planet and Peace, Over Profits.” They recognize the need for a convergence of movements focused on the rights of workers, students, immigrants, women and indigenous peoples; resistance to endless war, the prison-industrial complex, tar sands, fracking, nuclear power, GMOs and more. There is recognition that the domination of the planet and the domination of peoples around the world are inextricably intertwined. Addressing climate change is only possible if there is social, cultural and economic justice for all peoples.
During the 10 days beginning with Earth Day April 21 and ending with International Labor Day on May 1, a series of events will link together under the umbrella of the local chapter of the Global Climate Convergence. This is an impressive list of allies converging together including environmentalists, labor organizers, peace activists, religious and spiritual leaders, and social and racial justice organizations. Information about the local Global Climate Justice can be found at cldc.org.
One of the anchor events will be the seventh annual Lane Peace Symposium entitled “Awakening the Dreamer → Move to Action” on April 25-26, in the Lane Community College Longhouse. The symposium explores the challenges and possibilities of this moment in time and the role people can play in creating a new future. The symposium brings together an impressive array of keynote speakers and workshop facilitators. These include John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man; the Pachamama Alliance’s “Awakening the Dreamer Symposium”; Move to Amends’ workshop on “Building Diverse Social Movements” and more. The event is free; however, space is limited. Information about and registration for the symposium can be found at: http://lanecc.edu/peacecenter. — Stan Taylor, Ph.D.