I contend therefore that we have allowed these chemicals to be used with little or no advanced investigation of their effect on soil, water, wildlife and man himself. Future generations are unlikely to condone our lack of prudent concern for the integrity of the natural world that supports all life. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Wangari Maathai
I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. Greta Thunberg
We are calling all women and our allies to come together to save the earth that sustains us all. Is it any wonder that from Rachel Carson to Wangari Maathai to the emerging young leader Greta Thunberg, women have been in the forefront of environmental movements for a century? As daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and aunts, we have long cared and advocated for the most vulnerable among us, the very young, the very old, the disabled, those who are the first to suffer the consequences of climate catastrophe and the many kinds of pollution that are poisoning the earth we share.
As cooks, gardeners, and small farmers providing sustenance for our families throughout the world, we speak for the soil and the water, the air and the crops that feed us. As Congresswomen, diplomats, lawyers, doctors, CEOs, artists and scientists we are calling for fair and equitable public policies that address the crises we are facing together. As those who create homes and maintain households, we are speaking out for our first and only home, the planet earth we share.
Today as never before we are witnessing the destruction of the intricate and delicate balance, the miraculous conditions on earth on which all life depends. At this moment as a drastically changing climate and a deluge of poisonous substances, from plastic to coal to pesticides threaten the habitats of living creatures world wide, we are confronted by unprecedented loss of species, what some are calling “the sixth extinction,” a tragic loss reflected in the epidemic of disease in our families and communities.
Like indigenous communities and people of color, because women are so often marginalized, as outsiders we have a crucial perspective including valuable insights into what has caused the frightening and destructive events we are witnessing. We see a world too often governed by ruthless attempts to dominate and win, placing profit above every other value, framed by a world view that describes nature as inferior, lacking in intelligence or the inviolable integrity that all living beings possess. In response we call for an ethic of peaceful cooperation with nature and between nations.
Faced with the consequences of heedless, ignorant and ultimately violent policies that threaten our lives and all we love, wild fires burning our forests and homes, floods and mudslides destroying our towns, fierce storms battering our coastline, lakes and rivers becoming too toxic to drink, as our oceans and the fish that swim in them are choked with plastic, as our air becomes heavy with particles that threaten human health, we are calling for women to unite in an effort to recognize and respond to the failures of political, economic and moral vision behind these crises.
As nurses, teachers, waitresses, secretaries, wives, partners, those who respect and nurture life, we understand we are all dependent on each other and every other living being on earth. And we know too that together we have the creative vision to stop the advance of climate change and the sixth extinction, to put an end to the poisoning of our earth, to build societies that, taking inspiration from indigenous cultures, respect nature’s rights and learn from nature’s wisdom. In this light we urge you now to speak out, organize, rally, protest and step up in every way you can to protect the future of life on earth.
Susan Griffin, Vandana Shiva, Alice Walker, Alice Waters, Vijaya Nagarajan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Deirdre English, Ayelet Waldman, Jane Hirshfield, Arlie Hochschild, Joanna Macy, Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin, Claire Greensfelder, Belvie Rooks, Jennifer Berezan, Ruth Rosen, Elizabeth Rosner, Joyce Jenkins, Nancy Shelby, Anita Barrows, Rebecca Foust, Joan Miura, Carol P. Christ
Here are some actions you can take and organizations you can join and support:
Learn about the environmental issues in your own neighborhood. Educate your community and organize to while demanding an end to pollution and the emission of CO2 in every form. Work to empower our communities to allow us to make decisions that protect the environment and our families and all lives Ask your senators and representatives to support The Green New Deal. Call for and support public transportation. Ask the businesses in your communities and chains such as Trader Joe’s to adopt practices that support the environment and cease those that are destructive, such as the use of plastic. Take action to ban poisons such as Glyphosate found in Monsanto’s Round Up from our communities. Boycott Monsanto and companies that fail to adopt green policies. Ask your governments to stop exporting environmental destruction, in every form including dumping waste, mining, drilling for oil, selling pesticides, altering and patenting seeds, internationally. Oppose war and investments in warfare. As the largest source of pollution on the planet, armed conflict and the manufacture and storage of weapons cause irreparable and vast damage all over the earth.
Below is a list just a few of the organizations working to save our planet that can support your efforts and which you can join and support.
350.org, Bioneers, Black Belt Citizens, Greenpeace, Mothers out Front, Rain Forest Action, Seed Sovereignty, The Nature Conservancy, The Southern Environmental Law Center, Women Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), Women’s Environmental Network (WEN), Women’s Environmental Action, Women’s Voices for the Earth, Collaborative on Health and the Environment, CODEPINK.
Call: written by Susan Griffin with Vandana Shiva
Painting: Mother Earth by Jennifer Cortez-Perlmutter
Note from Carol P. Christ: “Women’s knowledge” that we are part of the earth stems from women’s work: caring for the weak and the vulnerable in all cultures and caring for plants and trees in horticultural and forest-cultural societies. This knowledge is available to men as well but only if they are willing to challenge long-standing cultural assumptions about “manhood” based in the separation of men from women and nature.
Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist writer, activist, and educator living in Lasithi, Crete. Carol’s recent book written with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, is on Amazon. A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess is on sale for $9.99 on Amazon. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.
Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.