Tag Archives: vivir bien

The Little Pufferfish Who Could

…build her a castle

Art in the Sand

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Click on image for extraordinary video: Art of the Pufferfish

I am totally charmed. Who knew pufferfish are masters of art and architecture?
The scientific powers that be attribute the whole thing to a mating ritual and the sole purpose of the pufferfish’s activity is to impress a female.
Not me, though.

Mission Accomplished

I am impressed. Thoroughly and completely.

I feel a certain kinship to this pufferfish, who pulls his vision from the sand. I work in clay—rarely if not never do I sketch things out first on paper. It’s not that I cannot draw, it’s that paper is but two dimensional, and clay is three. For me, it’s just easier to ‘draw,’ so to speak, with the clay in the first place.

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Archimedes Flight, 2006, Ceramic sculpture by Mary C Simmons

The pufferfish didn’t draw it all out first either, for obvious reasons. No paper, no writing utensils, no thumbs…just an internal vision that drove his entire body in the performance of art. That’s how I do it too, engrossed in my task and operating from an internal vision that informs my hands to construct the compendium of details that comprise the whole.

Art and Sentience

We humans draw a firm boundary between ourselves and the rest of creation, based on a standard (set by us) of intelligence and sentience, which undergoes periodic redefinition to exclude all of creation except us. Originally defined as the ability to feel and perceive, the definition was expanded to include an ability to suffer. Once we started noticing that all animals have that ability, self-awareness became the defining quality of sentience.

I can’t imagine how the pufferfish created his art without an awareness of himself in his oceanic landscape of water and sand. Why is it that the creation of art is an instinctual mating ritual in the animals, but a sign of sentience and intelligence in us?

satin-bower-bird-nestUntil the pufferfish first maps out his sculpture on paper or via computer graphics, or when the bowerbirds use differential equations to construct their nests, they’ll never even approach us intelligence-wise. Cool that we get to not only set the standard, but keep changing it as well so as to exclude all that is non-human. But why?

I am over-awed and comforted by my kinship with the little pufferfish creating a work of art the same way I do—from an internal vision, using his physical body. I doubt very much, however, that I could create this or any piece of art with my nose. From that perspective, the pufferfish is quite a bit more talented than I am.

 

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Animal Architecture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Heaven, Cow Heaven

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First Cut

I live at the foot of the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Snowmelt provides an amazing amount of water to the Gunnison River Basin, as is evident by the acres and acres of hay pastures and small herds of grazing cows. And a few horses. A few thousand humans are scattered across this landscape, which provides a natural and spectacularly scene of pasture and mountains.
The valley of the North Fork of the Gunnison hosts a surprising population of artists, organic farmers, vintners, amid happy cows munching on red clover, alfalfa and grass. Less visible, yet as happy as the other bovines, goats, pigs, and chickens have found a good life here.
As have I. Everything I need to nourish body and soul: they grow peaches here, for one. The landscape is astonishingly beautiful. Organic farming, always a plus.
And this is cow heaven. No feedlots here, no concentration of a large number of animals on a small piece of land.
This is good.
I want my future beef to be happy, well fed on grass, and gently ‘processed.’

Animal Screams

Fortunately for me and the ranchers, a few very small meat processing facilities are located in the valley. Small is good. I loathe and despise the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, where cows are mired in manure and urine-saturated pens and fed a mixture of grains, hormones and antibiotics. But this is not happening here in Cow Heaven. I gaze out on these pastures of cows and grass, idyllic in the full height of summer glory. And it is good.

Pigs+to+slaughterThen I heard the screams. An animal in complete, shrieking terror being offloaded into a slaughter house that I had assumed by it’s very smallness would fulfill the destiny, the very birthright, of cattle born in this valley. A respectful peaceful death…

Mere words are so very flat and lack the dimension to describe the dreadful horror of this animal’s last experience as a living creature. It was unbearable. How is that we humans are so cruel? To our food, each other, the landscape, the Earth?
I’m tempted to become a vegetarian, perhaps to cleanse and absolve me of this horror. But I don’t think it’s wrong to eat animals. It’s not wrong to eat anything. But it is wrong to torture our food before we eat it.

You are what you Eat

Who are we, who eat GMO corn-fed, pharmaceutically engineered flesh? Shot full of adrenaline and fear in the moments before it’s death, the animal will be cut up and packaged.

We will eat it. Far from the scene of it’s life and terrified death, the package does not resemble a living animal, whose screams are silent, but the aftermath of fear lives on in us.

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Wild Law, Earth Law—a profound equality

Wild Law or Earth Jurisprudence is an emerging theory of law and governance that seeks to evolve law in a fashion that recognises our relationship to the broader Earth community.—Peter D. Burdon, University of Adelaide – School of Law

gravityLaws vs Legal Systems

There’s the Law, and there’s the law. One governs Nature, the other governs us (in theory).

Gravity is a Law that is not subject to debate. Breaking or ignoring gravity’s law will ultimately lead to death of the organism.

Legal systems on the other hand are subject to continual debate and change, which is a good thing, given human reason and rationality. Legal systems violations lead to inconvenience, fines, jail terms, and only in unusual cases (relative to the entire US prison population), death.

Wild Law is a legal system that is based on the well being of the Earth, and it requires the human recognition that “…the well-being of each member of the Earth Community is derived from, and cannot take precedence over, the well-being of Earth as a whole.”

The well being of each member of the Earth community is equal in rights to all other members of the Earth community. Equal in the right to exist and fulfill its evolutionary purpose.

This is a declaration of a complete and profound equality that spans the entire Earth—all plants, animals, all rivers, lakes, oceans, landscapes and skies. All equal.

The well-being of the planet depends on it, and will eventually rid itself of that which does not promote well-being.

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Illusion                                            Reality

That would be us.

Wild Law. It’s for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivir Bien: The Wild Law of Mother Earth

BELLO+TRONCO+DE+LA+PACHAMAMA“She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb. She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings, and their self-organisation.”

Her human version, as the English translation of the Spanish translation of the original Inca goddess have it, is Pachamama. Earth Mother, Mother Earth, depending on the structure of your language. She rules over crops and all growing things.

Protecting Pachamama

On April 1, 2014, Bolivia passed a new and highly controversial environmental law that in the words of President Evo Morales is about “…how to live in harmony, balance, and complementarity with nature, without which there is no life or humanity.”

The law’s intention is Vivir Bien or ‘Good Living,’ and derives its principles from the world view of indigenous Andean cultures. Vivir Bien aims to reinforce the integral nature of  spiritual, environmental, and cultural realms within the 21st century human economic and societal structures. Which means that our economic and societal structures should be governed by spiritual, environmental and cultural considerations, rather than the other way around as is our current mode.

And if we do not, our own extinction is guaranteed. Pachamama will get over us in less time than the entire panorama of human history. But there is hope, thanks to these South American, forward-thinking politicians. In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to enact a Rights of Nature clause into its Constitution, which views the natural world as an integrated assemblage of living organisms rather than property.

Among its many aspects, Bolivia’s law recognizes the right of all organisms to not have their genes tampered with.

Two thumbs up.

Perhaps the most novel and welcome concept of this new law is the recognition that humans and all other entities on Earth are equal.

Imagine…

 

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Ecofantasy?

What’s that?

It’s a state of mind…a vision of an alternative future, where all of Earth’s inhabitants have the right to be alive, each to its own individual perception of the world, and each with a unique voice that sings its own song of creation. All the animals, plants, rocks, air, and water–everyone.

Edward_Hicks_-_Peaceable_KingdomWhere the Wild Law rules…

“…wild law is a law made by people to regulate human behaviour that privileges maintaining the integrity and functioning of the whole Earth community in the long-term, over the interests of any species (including humans) at a particular time.”
—Cormac Cullinan, author, Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice

Even Rivers have the “…right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.” (http://therightsofnature.org/ecuador-rights/)

Even unto personhood—
In 2012, New Zealand gave the Whanganui River ‘personhood rights’ (http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/river-new-zealand-granted-legal-rights-person.html)

Ecofantasy

The idea of rights of nature is still an ecological fantasy in the overall human consciousness. I offer my vision of a not-too distant Earth, a planet, alive with organisms, including the entities of rock, air, water that we deem ‘non-living’ but are alive in ways we cannot fathom.

Toward this vision, I wrote my first novel, Corvus Rising, an ecofantasy of crows, humans, sentience, and the idea that we have the ability to communicate verbally across species boundaries.

 

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