photographs – Emma Dudlyke www.emmadudlyke.com
Replacing the old story of separation with the new story of unity and embracing radical pluralism is the imperative of our time, says Satish Kumar.
Separation, or the idea that living things exist individually, in isolation from each other, has been a dominant story for many centuries. This intellectual, even ideological, approach to life has its value on occasion, but its limitations, and indeed dangers, have become increasingly evident.
First, and most obvious, is the separation it implies of humans from Nature. We have come to think that Nature is somehow out there; that the hills, rivers, oceans, forests, animals and birds are Nature, as distinct from human beings and our works. (See any dictionary for this modern definition.) This definition supports and even legitimises the idea that the natural world is subordinate to us and exists to serve our needs.
In accordance with such ideas of separation, the purpose of much science, technology, industry and the economy has been seen as to conquer Nature and make her useful to meet human need – and, all too often, human greed. Therefore we can do to Nature what we like; we can cut down the rainforests, overfish the oceans, slaughter animals in their millions in our industrial agriculture, poison the soil with chemicals and kill wild creatures in the pursuit of pleasure, power or entertainment. According to this narrative, Nature has no soul, no spirit, no intelligence, no memory. Nature is inanimate.
Emma Dudlyke www.emmadudlyke.com
By Satish Kumar
A former monk and long-term peace and environment activist, Satish Kumar has been quietly setting the Global Agenda for change for over 50 years.
Inspired in his early 20s by the example of the British peace activist Bertrand Russell, Satish embarked on an 8,000-mile peace pilgrimage together with E.P. Menon. Carrying no money and depending on the kindness and hospitality of strangers, they walked from India to America, via Moscow, London and Paris, to deliver a humble packet of ‘peace tea’ to the then leaders of the world’s four nuclear powers.
In 1973 Satish settled in the United Kingdom, taking up the post of editor of Resurgence magazine, which has now been passed on to Greg Neale, making him the UK’s longest-serving editor of the same magazine. During this time, he has been the guiding spirit behind a number of now internationally-respected ecological and educational ventures, including Schumacher College in South Devon where he is still a Visiting Fellow.
His autobiography, No Destination, first published by Green Books in 1978, has sold over 50,000 copies. He is also the author of You Are, Therefore I Am: A Declaration of Dependence and The Buddha and the Terrorist.