Actualizado: 30 jul 2019
Beloved and longed for Amazon, unknown...
I am writing to you from my "office" ( a friend's house), in a small city like many others in Latin America. You can hear the hammers nearby and also in the distance. There are always constructions going on, aren't there? Most of them are made of blocks and cement, square, functional, with half-finished rooftops that forever promise future extensions. I imagine they are the same constructions that are appearing in your cities and towns, in your villages. I imagine the construction and the progress coming to you, little by little and rapidly at the same time. There will also be, I imagine, mega roads just as there are - and there will be - mega mining projects and mega oil wells.
Will there already be malls, where jaguars and anacondas used to live, I wonder?
On a small scale and also on a large scale. On a large scale and also on a small scale: the cement blocks are arriving, and with them the Cartesian and pixelated landscape of civilization. I emphasize this because it's not only a large-scale phenomenon, it's also a small-scale phenomenon. Without the mining and oil companies, the process of transforming life and beauty of the Amazon into ugliness would not stop.
As I said at the end of the post When will we stop the destruction of nature? "THE DESTRUCTION OF NATURE STOPS NOW". I added in my homepage: "As the obsession for control fades away", a phenomenon that in itself is happening and that is great hope.
As you encounter the Western world of modernity, you are transformed in many ways: physically, culturally. An infinite multiplicity of unique places and corners is lost, with special aromas and irreplaceable sensations, by a landscape that tends to sameness. A transformation that hurts, and that I suspect has a mirror in my own personal, intimate pain. While you, Amazonas, look for your place in this world, I also look for mine: I look for a place within me.
Your geographical place is obvious, but the place you are looking for is the space of encounter, of oneness, with the civilizatorial reality in which we live. A reality of modernity, of economy and agriculture, of telecommunications, of cell phones and tablets, of health centres and schools. Some defend that this reality and this encounter bring positive and good things to people, while others postulate that the truth is quite the opposite: both are right, and nobody is. So it is, for the distance between right and wrong is only illusion.
Maybe many indigenous people living in the Amazon want economic progress. Your people have a right to want material progress, don't they? We Westerners have no right to determine what is good for the people of the Amazon. And by the way, let's look the truth in the face: material progress is no matter what at the expense of the destruction of the health and beauty of life.
They're not all like that. The Achuar knew that such an encounter would occur. Their will is very clear and strong: they want to stop the destruction, without conditions, without concessions. There is no bargaining space there, that's how I hear them, there is no material good for which they are willing to concede. They saw clearly that conceding is a path without return in which there is no hope of life. Then the question took shape: how do we meet with civilization, with the economic system?
Amazon rainforest, maybe you call me to meet you
But to meet you is hard for my fellow protectors of you... Their voice mainly expresses "...and above all to show that a clean economy is possible that has nothing to do with harmful activities for the planet". I respectfully take this quotation from a colleague as emblematic of the predominant view of the protectors of the Amazon or of life. In that view, a clean economy must be possible, otherwise our struggle is in vain. Otherwise what are we going to believe in; we need to believe in something in order to continue resisting.
But you know and I know that this clean economy is not possible, so that it may be. In other words, that it is necessary to go through an atrocious death, as activists: to recognize that our battle is already lost, that all the effort we put into believing in our ideals is in vain... That it is not about how much we reaffirm to each other that we are "right" in defending life.
Part of our hope is the possibility of offering a concrete alternative economy. That possibility is also a demand of our culture of separation where everything must be as much as possible under control. Personally, it seems to me that this demand has a certain agressiveness in taking away our freedom.
They call it a regenerative economy. I like the term, similar to restorative. Only that it is an illusion. It is impossible, for it to be possible. That is to say, it is not possible without first letting it die. Deeply. Shamelessly. Atrociously, to let her die. That is my calling, fellow activists.
Comrade activists, protectors of the Amazon, I do not necessarily invite you to that death of which I speak. I prefer to support you, because your heart energy could never be lost. There is no way for it to be lost. So you can go your own way and I would like to support you. In fact I don't think I can protect the Amazon better than you. But when I'm invited, when I come to this conversation as an economist, I can't come up with anything but the painful death I'm talking about. This is simply what is in my heart.
The supposed need to offer a concrete economic alternative
If we say "this is what we don't want" then we are supposed to say what we do want. If we say we don't want the extractivist model in the Amazon, then we are supposed to say we want a regenerative economy. So far so good.
The problem is that in our conventional society we are convinced that the solutions to the problems (that are outside) are found outside. We are also convinced that solutions have to be found within the spectrum of the known. But if we limit our search to the spectrum of the known and to the box of the possible, then we will always find ourselves limited.
And what is worse: we will not find a solution, and deep down we know it, only that it hurts a lot to recognise it.
It is a reality that is becoming more and more evident and more difficult to evade. The truth is that there is a latent frustration and helplessness, in irreconcilable connection with our true and powerful love for life.
The economy that is possible is no matter what the extractivist economy. Why? Because money is issued as debt and therefore there is a permanent and eternal pressure to convert the gift of life into commercial activities (see Understanding money - story of a village). Debt means: whatever there is this year must be increased next year; and so it goes on and on. A regenerative economy may have improved intentions (and thank you for that! It's not that it's not helpful, it is, it just can't be enough), but it's impossible for it to stop being extractivist, as long as money continues to be issued as debt.
Then, the human mind, obsessed with finding external solutions, sees as the only way out the implementation of alternative currencies. But then the challenge is to convince a critical mass of people to live, produce, consume and exchange with alternative currencies. But why does it cost so much to convince people to do this? We have to redouble our efforts and clinging to our hope... but we can't deny frustration and impotence, can we? (There is another hope)
Sooner or later the alternative currency has to be convertible into conventional currency. Complete isolation is impossible. So sooner or later the pressure for economic growth from the conventional currency is transferred to the alternative currency. And so we re-convince ourselves: we have to convince a larger critical mass. A titanic task, and as boring as telemarketing. Convincing is very similar to marketing. It's as if we were doing the same thing as the conventional market system, after all our efforts to do something different.
Unless it aligns with the call of someone's soul, I very much doubt that the solution is to convince a critical mass of people. Dependence on external wills and decisions disempowers us, when divinely each of us has complete power over her happiness and over her soul's call. The service to life that every human being wants to give does not depend on external wills or circumstances.
More deeply, and this is more a truth in my heart than an intellectual truth, there will be no alternative currency aligned with a sustainable economy as long as "more for you is less for me", as long as we conceive of our life in separation. There will be no clean and sustainable economy as long as our collective neural arrangement is that of linear and separate logic.
In any case, I applaud the creation and implementation of these initiatives! But not by their concrete results (not by what percentage of the economy goes into trading with the alternative currency), but rather by their subtle consequences: when you touch someone's heart, that's what matters. It is not information, nor is it the measurable, that really matters. It is the power of the heart.
When something touches the heart, that's where something valuable takes place. There is where power lies. In dance with the unknown, and not under control.
That has to do with the state of being with which things are done. A loving state of being, inviting oneness, is probably more radical and effective through cultural transformation. And it doesn't have so much to do with the concrete things we do or the measurable results.
In any case, the most important happens beyond the measurable. Or does the destruction of a forest matter to us because of the amount of annual capture of tons of carbon? No! It matters to us because we simply love the beauty of life, spontaneously and without reason. However, we are obsessed by what we call concrete things, because culturally what is not concrete is associated with waste of time, with uselessness.
Where are we going with this? To the heart. There is no point in living obsessed with modifying the external, with intellectually designing alternative economic systems, for example, where we can exert control over circumstances and consequences... Everything external happens and passes through the internal: therein lies our power. That is where everything begins and ends. That is where the focus must be.
While I say this because this is my soul's calling, I also want to support whoever has a soul calling to focus on something external and perhaps design new systems. All my support as long as that soul' call comes from the guts of being and not from the intellectual obsession with the external.
The destruction of nature stops when the obsession with control expires. The urgent cultural transformation goes from separation to oneness. The urgent neural transformation involves a change of way of thinking, and not of opinions.
That is the true gift of life: that everything is connected in oneness. For me personally, sharing this last phrase is in itself a gift.
I wrote this essay because I was recently invited to participate in a group of people, linked to Pachamama Alliance, genuinely motivated to protect the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon. My respect and gratitude for the invaluable and urgent work you are doing: you are doing it well. Thank you also because you have inspired me to write this, which makes me very pleased.
I invite you to the forum to share your views and initiatives in the section Restoring nature.