December 1999: We came across this copy of a speech given almost 20 years ago. I found it interesting that it reflects my views today. The only thing I would add is that I now use the term Earth Trustee, which provides a name for people engaged in Earth Care, and the Earth Magna Charta, which was written some years after the Earth Charter, is a better document. (See reference to the lasting effect of this speech in the e-mail at the end of this article.)
EARTH CARE CAMPAIGN
BY John McConnell, founder
Earth Society Foundation
Presentation Dec. 8, 1982
at Princeton University
Meeting of Y.E.S. (Youth Environmental Society)
Our world is in imminent danger. The objective of the Earth Care Campaign is to take action that will provide a healthy, peaceful future for our planet. Impossible as this may seem in the light of thousands of years of failure and the present danger, I believe there are now elements in our global situations which can be combined in a way that will synergistically bring about the rejuvenation of Earth.
These elements pertain to the spiritual, the psychological, the financial or economic, the political, and the environmental necessities for our task. What we are presenting here is a consideration of our planet and of what we have in common that is sufficiently important to mobilize people everywhere for the care of Earth.
We are initiating a campaign that will ask everyone to select and work for a project of their own choosing that they believe will assist our new global task -- to take care of our planet. On each Earth Day, March 20-21, we expect to obtain global attention for this task.
The one thing we have in common globally is our planet. The most important challenge that has ever been faced by the human race is the necessity now of immediate action for the defense of Earth, the care of our planet, its life and its people; the restoration of Earth's beauty and natural bounty.
So the object of the Earth Care Campaign is to saturate media with thinking and feelings about this one goal. And then to illustrate by examples the actions and solutions that can be applied in every block, neighborhood, vocation and institution; showing how every person in the private sector and the public sector can assume a role in this global effort for the rejuvenation of Earth.
In order to accomplish this it is essential that we understand the process of peace. The word peace, "pachem" in Latin, means to agree, to be in accord. All over the world are efforts to understand what is held in common with others and come together for a common purpose. We have organizations like "Common Cause", "Moral Majority", "Solidarity", directly expressing this principal. Of course, any successful organization draws people together because of a common interest or purpose. In every field you find people seeking to strengthen their efforts by joining with others who have something in common with them.
What is needed today is a great unifying purpose, a strong bonding idea that can inter-link all of society. I believe the only thing that can bring this about is the recognition of our planet and a commitment to be Earthkeepers [Earth Trustees], to accept our role as the caretakers of this marvelous planet. And though we may pursue this goal in independent ways, to recognize the essential areas in which we must cooperate in order to succeed, to see the nature of our interdependence. For example, from the knowledge that we now have of biology and the cell, we realize the life-giving elements that are flowing through our bloodstream and that make our physical presence here possible, are linked in subtle ways with every other life cell on our planet. In fact, all life on Earth is, in a sense, one organism, one being. So we must recognize the nature of our independence and our freedom and also the nature of our interdependence and then out of that see the constraints that are necessary in order for us to achieve a dynamic symmetry in our individual and global goals.
In proceeding with an Earth Care Campaign, it is essential that we have a global view with some passion in it. A real awareness of the wonder of our planet will arouse in most anyone a feeling of love for Earth. I am very happy when people have a tear in their eye as they speak about a whale, hummingbird -- or a mountain peak. I was little misty-eyed when I heard Ed Gibson just before our 1980 Earth Day celebration telling of his circling the globe 1200 times. What he must have felt as he looked down and saw Earth -- like a bright Christmas ornament hanging in the Heavens.
In our Earth Care Campaign, we need a deep sense of common commitment to a purpose and program in which there is honest basic agreement. It is also important to recognize that our accord, agreement and cooperation is limited. The limitation should be recognized, but not stressed.
I think it well for me to talk just a little more about this. One of the books that influenced my life as a young person was "The Recovery of the Spiritual ideal" by Felix Adler. He stated that whether it is in a relationship between husband and wife, within a group or a country, or in international relationships, if you seek and find an overarching goal that is deeply shared, that is emotionally felt, and you find some way to cooperatively work for that goal, then you find a strange phenomena, you find that the areas of difference or conflict are diminished or there is accommodation and fair negotiation. Sometimes there are basic changes of outlook, because on each side the people tend to be less defensive and more open when they are working together for a common goal.
So the achievement of a common objective, the discovery of areas of honest accord must be a fundamental aspect of any Earth Care Campaign that is really going to provide a healthy, peaceful future for our planet.
In the United Nations we have a forum where the leaders of nations discuss common global objectives -- what is best for the whole world, the good of all of its people. There are many factors, especially nationalism that limit success in these efforts - but a structure and means of communication are now in place. All recognize the common danger. Provide a solution to which all can agree and vigorous support will ensue.
In our Earth Care Campaign we want to bring to the attention of people globally through effective use of mass media and person to person communication, the fundamental facts that we can all agree to. We want to make these terribly important because if we can work together in what we all have in common we can avoid global catastrophe and have a healthy, peaceful future.
We have stressed that the one thing we have in common is the Earth and that the well-being of our planet, its life, its people is essential. Now viewing this from a different perspective, there are people around the world who have deep religious feelings and it's perfectly in keeping with this for individuals who have a spiritual approach to life to achieve their commitment to Earth through love of God. All great religions teach love of neighbor, the golden rule, and love of Earth. Stewardship and care of Earth is taught in all the major religions. I am particularly acquainted with what Jesus had to say about it, because I am a Christian. In the Lord's prayer Jesus said, pray "thy kingdom come on Earth, as it is in Heaven." The beautiful beatitudes in the sermon on the mount, lead up to people becoming peacemakers. Just before that he said, "blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth." In the psalms it says "The Earth hath he given to the children of men." The protection and preservation of Earth's trees, plants, soil and creatures large and small is taught in most religions. I believe that the one thing which will contribute most to global peace is a great spiritual awakening of heart-felt devotion to the nurture and care of our planet. Let the word go forth, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. A healthy peaceful planet is possible now."
We know the great achievements of theater, art and drama and the wonderful things that are done with music. It is worship, religious experience and the arts that move us, that shape our values and affect our conduct if we let them. In the Earth Care Campaign we will stir the hearts of young and old, from children in kindergarten to senior citizens with symbols, sights and sounds that declare the wonder of Earth -- its life, its mystery, and its desperate need for our care. The great responsibility of people in the arts and in media is to dramatize the challenge and the solutions: how we can contribute to this goal in our own block, neighborhood and vocation; in the institutions of which we are a part; to think in terms of Earth Care when we go into the market place and make our purchases; to think of Earth care when we make investments -- the way we use our money; to fill our minds with the tremendous challenge, "Help take charge and take care of Earth."
Our generation can bring to an end to the bloody history of wars, the degradation and destruction of Earth and with the grace and help of God see Earth's redemption. We can bring into being the golden age. We have the raw materials, the knowledge, the technology. We have the means today to provide a healthy, peaceful, creative future for every man, woman and child on Earth.
Blocks to achieving this goal are the prejudices and differences that exist all over the world, differences in cultures values and beliefs. Well now, a difference can often be a creative thing if it's handled right. I remember E. Stanley Jones talking about the many different denominations in the Christian church. He felt that the differences enabled different points of view to be emphasized in ways that contribute to a larger fuller expression of God's grace. For example, in the Episcopal church there is great formality. The ritual and architecture are a far cry from that of the Quakers or the Friends where you find extreme simplicity. I for one feel that when there is a great devotion to God and understanding of the meaning of worship, each can serve a special purpose. One can complement the other. So also in a common commitment to the care of Earth, there can be great diversity of approach, there can be a great diversity of culture, there can be a great diversity of religions, of ideologies, so long as we are constantly seeking the honest accord that will provide the measure of harmony that is essential for peace and the effective care of our planet.
Once we demonstrate a contagious Earth Care solution, it will spread exponentially and appeal to people of every ideology, climate, and culture. We will see a worldwide effort to change our planet from Earth Kill to Earth Care.
We have a simple, positive, dynamic idea. In the Earth Care Campaign we are asking people to think globally and act locally: In their personal life to undertake some project they feel will contribute to the care of Earth. In our Earth Care Campaign we invite everyone to have an Earth Care project or activity; that you do this in collaboration with a few other people, with some group, especially some small group. Make this individual commitment and then link up with people of like mind and give at least 10% of your time and money to your Earth Care Project -- with follow-through and continuity. You may want to change later on to some other project, but persistence is extremely important in pursuing these goals. Beyond that we suggest that once you have established what you are going to do for the care of Earth, that you tell others, not seeking to proselytize them to your cause or thinking but by a combination of conscience and common sense, to attract them to the Earth Care idea and by your example to inspire them to a like commitment.
I think that person to person communication can be the key to the success of our Earth Care Campaign.
We are seeking to find the maximum use of communication that will contribute to the defense and rejuvenation of Earth -- to Earth Care activities and programs.
I want to include here something that has intrigued me for many years, and that is, the nature of exponential phenomena. Dr. Forrester in his book "World Dynamics" has explained the implication of this in a very scholarly way and there has been much since then but the one little factor that has intrigued me is that two to the thirty-third power is over 8 billion. Well, that is twice the number of people that are on our planet. We will take the Earth Care plan I have just described and reinforce it by maximum use of television and radio and the help of leaders, of celebrities and great music. Hotlines and information numbers will enable people to have their local efforts reinforced. A growing commitment will spread in every church, school, block association, and every business organization from the Chamber of Commerce to the corporate board rooms of the world. Throughout this we will seek one common goal: To halt the destruction of Earth before catastrophe strikes, and to change directions with a real dedication to Earth's care. We will do this in ways that we can honestly support and we will see a spreading network of action and hope throughout the world.
In this room today each one of you can decide whether this is a commitment you will make, and that beginning today to do what you can, both by thinking and seeking through contacts and relationships to define and choose your project, your role In the care of Earth, and to spread the word about the Earth Care Campaign. You may help a neighborhood garden, a solar energy project or homestead program for the poor; there are thousands of ways in which you can demonstrate Earth Care. You decide what it is and then make a special commitment to at least one project. Be connected with a group that is working for your objectives and then speak to at least two other people. You might end up sharing your ideas with five or ten people, but at least two people. Tell them what you are doing and expect them to do something with a similar commitment. If we can make exponential growth work in this great task, we can save our planet. Two to the thirty-third power is 8 billion. That means that if the doubling begins this week and continues every week, in thirty-three weeks we will cover the world.
Then by constant effort a deeper level of understanding and commitment can be obtained within 30 days. With contagious communications deeper participation will double every month. In thirty-three months we will have a strong global commitment to the care of Earth.
In world War II we managed to turn out second lieutenants in 90 days, so perhaps we should think of a third milestone .... in which commitment will be strengthened by further clarification of our duties and opportunities -- of new values and relationships that foster Earth Care. If in 90 days we can turn out a second lieutenant we might turn out a real caretaker of Earth and if the doubling of that spreads globally, in 7 years time we could begin to see massive global results.
Now in all of this we have been talking in generalities. You need a general statement, but let me give a few specific examples of what we mean by Earth Care.
Throughout this country and around the world there are individuals and small groups here and there that are demonstrating Earth care solutions. For example greenhouses are being built in increasing numbers to grow food. From wheat sprouts in apartments to neighborhood gardens there is increasing awareness of Earth Care solutions and intensive efforts to increase what is already happening. For example, in Now York City they already have 800 neighborhood gardens, they may eventually have 80,000 -- this is a possible goal. Think of what the City of New York would be like if it had 80,000 neighborhood gardens. More than that, what if they had a few urban farms where people could come and see fruit trees and farm animals and pick up healthy food to take home with them.
By the same token the efforts for urban homesteads are rapidly spreading. One of the things that will be emphasized in the Earth Care Campaign is not only that the care of our planet is our responsibility but that everyone is entitled to their territorial claim to our planet. The great religions predict the time when every person will have their own vine and fig tree -- their own Earth claim. In our own history we had homestead programs where an individual in an earlier time could get 160 acres -- good land with trees and fertile soil and flowing streams. By applying his own industry and initiative he could provide a secure homestead and a future for him and his family. Well, I think the Earth is a little too crowded for everybody to have 160 acres but with modern technology and possibilities, certainly everyone could have an apartment, a house or a few acres of land.
We are moved emotionally when we see on television or in a theater, E.T. pointing towards the stars and with loneliness saying "home." I suppose at some point an astronaut may point down to our little planet and say "Home - Earth is our home." But this concept has to be applied to the individual. Every person on our planet in entitled to inherit a portion of the Earth and to have available secure possession of a home with the basic requirements for life on our planet -- clean water, fresh air and availability of living growing things. A goal that can obtain common support globally is to provide every family on Earth a homestead, a place where they can live with a feeling of security, a place they can call their home: A home on our planet for every family. We may differ on how to achieve this goal but if we make it a priority and then record how it's being accomplished here and there, territorial claims of individuals will soon take precedence over the territorial claims of nation states. This will meet a global need and diminish some of our basic causes of conflict.
In the Earth Care Campaign we are looking for common goals that can be globally supported and pursued in different ways. Then we want to see an exchange of information that will help achieve these dynamic goals. We are talking here about the care of Earth and the sharing of Earth's natural bounty.
I want to again stress that we are not speaking in terms of ideologies, whether communism socialism or capitalism. We are just talking plain common sense. We want to see a global community of conscience, of commitment to the care of Earth, and determination to see that every person participates in an increasing way in the benefits of Earth's amazing web of life.
An Earth Care Campaign can lead to a more equitable participation in trade and exchange, here again seeking the special benefits of self-help programs: the advantages of independence and security for basic, local industries -- leaving for global trade and exchange high technology mass produced items that can add to life's benefits. Constantly seeking appropriate use of technology and equitable distribution of Earth's raw Materials and technology will stimulate growing cooperation and independence all over the world. It's with this combination that we can build a future.
It is necessary in talking about what the Earth Care Campaign represents and is trying to do to also explain what it is not, and I believe when we say Earth Care Campaign we must not in this mean either efforts for or against the nuclear freeze, or world government, or many solutions which may be good but which do not have and are unlikely to soon obtain the strong support of their opponents. The Earth Care Campaign can appeal to all sides.
As far as the future of freedom and order are concerned, certainly government and industry and all the institutions of our planet need new priorities but the Earth Care Campaign is not seeking to address symptoms. It is seeking change in the basic causes of the crisis we presently have. Addressing symptoms is also urgently needed -- but should not be labeled "Earth Care Campaign."
I feel the Earth Care Campaign must call attention to alternatives that are working. Much can be done in spite of present difficulties. The people who are revolutionary in their thinking can find wonderful opportunities through voluntary actions that will diminish inflation and waste. For example, every time you set up a system of barter you are diminishing inflation because much of the work is taking place without the use of money. Another possibility: Ancient religions and present thinking among some economists point to the need for a medium of exchange that can be obtained without paying interest. While no interest loans require a little benevolence on the part of those who put up the money, they help level the playing field.
It might be a great opportunity for a few bankers to set up a no interest loan program, appealing to Earth patriots for funds. They could make these loans available to ventures that can provide security that is business-like and responsible, but that are committed to new Earth Care alternatives. Incidentally, the government is providing tax advantages for no interest loans right now.
We have, for instance, in the energy field, all kinds of alternatives to the present wasteful polluting energy plants. There is right now available Nitinol engines which are more cost efficient than any kind of energy producing equipment that we have; I wish that every possible advantage could be given to those who are developing and are producing Nitinol engines -- every home should have one. As we look about for creative alternatives in technology -- for industry, communications and education -- we will find basic solutions that will make us better caretakers of Earth. We will discover there are unlimited opportunities in every direction.
The task that we are confronting here is to get attention for our planet and mobilize a global Earth Care Campaign that will capture the imagination of the world and bring the kind of benefits we are talking about. And at the same time create the climate of mutual trust in which disarmament and peace can naturally follow. Believe me, if the world becomes excited about Earth Care concepts and the growing community of conscience that is lifting human thought and vision from the narrow limitation of parochialism and nationalism; if for example, people in the Pentagon, and in the KGB and around the world suddenly feel a greater loyalty to their planet than to their nation, war will become impossible.
The key to these fundamental changes is a passionate commitment to care of Earth and anything that will assist Earth Care endeavors. This provides a challenge to religious faiths, to different groups and churches that are professing the importance of their religious belief, philosophy or ideology. Demonstrate its value by the things that you do in your Earth Care efforts. This is convincing evidence of love and wisdom.
People still are problem-solving organisms with at least a measure of common sense scattered around the world. Let us make it clear that Earth Care action is already enriching the life and prospects of individuals and communities here and there in many countries. Already we see the benefits of this new world view, this new attitude, this new kind of action. We live in a world of communications where it in very difficult to prevent people from finding out about something terribly exciting and interesting. I think the word can reach every secret corner of the globe that we have an opportunity now to see a healthy peaceful future for our planet. The creative potentials of us and our children can be realized in a way that brings to our mind the dreams of the golden age, the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, of a real utopia, where the lion will lie down with the lamb, where the humpback whale can again sing its song, and where in every part of the world people with love and gratitude will plant a tree to symbolize their commitment to Earth. Where wilderness areas will be increased. I think it would be great if Antarctica could be proclaimed a wilderness area and we would agree for at least 100 years not to exploit it, but to leave for future generations, this amazing delicate area of living, breathing life! Again, as custodians and caretakers of Earth, we can bring to our present generation a better life and to future generations unlimited opportunities for love, for creativity, for exploring the universe, learning more about life's great mysteries of spirit and mind. This in our task.
As resources to help you in carrying out your part of the Earth Care Campaign we have first of all the Earth Charter which is more or less just an outline that might provide connections and inter-linking purposes among participants. It sets forth the idea of being custodians and caretakers of Earth; an Earth Care ethic, Earth Care curriculum and education, and then it has guidelines in production, marketing, advertising, consumption, energy use, land use and communications. The object here is to give a brief general description of the total effort needed for Earth's rejuvenation. This skeleton needs to be filled in with some flesh and blood. We do have an Earth Care Handbook which goes into a little more detail about how this can be done. It would be excellent if locally, nationally and globally there were directories of Earth Care products and activities. Certainly this would be useful in every community if the definitions of Earth Care that are given in the Earth Care Handbook could be used as criteria for the more important programs and projects within each community that will contribute to these goals.
In many organizations there are Earth Care activities. For instance, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts have environmental programs. In churches, block associations and groups of every kind, there are projects that could be appropriately called Earth Care. There will be differences of opinion about what contributes to Earth Care, but I believe the guidelines found in the Earth Charter and in the Earth Care Handbook can develop a broad consensus and help people see the difference between Earth Kill and Earth Care. We feel that there can be communication about the people that are trying to care for Earth and their results. Media can follow through on these activities by giving feature treatment to individuals and programs that are contributing to Earth Care. Then more and more people will come to understand what is meant by the term Earth Care Campaign.
We especially invite communicators, TV, radio, press and magazines, to do what they can to further the Earth Care Campaign by stories and examples. It would be great if media would commit itself to give half of their time to solutions. We are so overwhelmed by the horror and terror of our problems and all the time there are great things happening that offer solutions.
I recall one woman who was living a very creative and happy life in a bad neighborhood in New York City, and I asked her how she always seemed to be smiling and on top of things, and she said, "Oh, it was very simple. I just got rid of my TV and radio and stopped my magazines and newspaper. Now I am able to function very well and do my part in helping to provide a better life for my neighbors." I don't think this is the solution but it pinpoints the problem. Responsible media will give special emphasis to alternatives and solutions and to those items that are improving the neighborhood and community -- and the world.
1983 will be United Nations World Communications Year. Innovative, imaginative use of the telephone can help Earth Care, and long distance rates and use of low-rate hours can be used to spread Earth Care ideas. It is just amazing how much can be accomplished through a few telephone calls. If you have a custom phone where you can have a conference call, all the better. I think that as a part of the Earth Care Campaign, every group should have a telephone tree, some system of communication, sharing information that will be useful to others. Then there is the possibility of data banks and all kinds of other technology that will provide resources and information for the Earth Care Campaign.
We would like to attract the enthusiastic support of the amazing innovative workers in the field of computer technology and video tapes; there is so much that can be done, both in the multi-sense use of mass media, of TV and radio, and also through the data banks and person to person contacts now possible through the computer technology and through the improvements in our telephone systems. Effective use of modern communications for an Earth Care Campaign can work miracles.
Now we haven't even talked about another vital area; there is increasing interest in the mysteries of mind and spirit. There are many differences about the nature of God, of mind and spirit. But who can deny the evidence of ESP, spiritual healing, miraculous answers to prayers, global mental communication between identical twins -- and other psychic phenomena that cannot be explained by science. But most will agree that our faith, or thought or feelings can effect other people --even at a distance. I sometimes feel that every strong loving thought is affecting attitudes and feelings of others. when we become consumed with a love and passion for the redemption of our planet, and our thoughts and our prayers, from the moment we wake to the moment we go to bed at night, are filled with joyous thoughts, with ideas and decisions for a better world and through the grace of God new faith for the redemption of the human family; why something happens that creates a sense of community wherever you go, Suddenly groups are really working together and we see the power of peaceful accord manifesting itself. I think that this is the great thing about prayer -- it will get through any defenses when it is motivated by love and faith and by the power of caring hearts.
Through these many different levels of action, we can pursue an Earth Care Campaign that will offer promise of a real breakthrough in the near future -- perhaps in 1984. I am not suggesting that all the problems of humanity will be easily solved, no not at all, but we now see a crack in the darkness and the promise of a dawn that will bring light and love and wisdom to the people of this planet. I am reminded of the words of Leonardo daVinci: "Oh wretched mortals open you eyes!" Now we need to open our eyes and swiftly act to foster Earth's rejuvenation.