Humans of the World, Unite!
[notes about urgent actions in turbulent times]
Welcome to this room of Stay with Me.
What you are about to read and see is a set of reflections and images made during almost nine months of lock down in Córdoba, Argentina, South America. Nine months in which I barely left my home.
Not moving became an extraordinary opportunity to consciously dive into my beliefs regarding the economic, social, political, ideological, cultural and spiritual frameworks. I had the chance to review and dismount many very well rooted conceptions which, I believe, are part of the illusion that the so-called system – the matrix- have been producing and reproducing non-stop for over two centuries, since – let’s say- the turning point that the dual revolution meant to Western (and westernized) countries.1
But above all, the content of this room is a straight forward invitation to you. An invitation to reflect together, as a global community. An invitation to take real action in order to build a bright new path of peaceful, compassive and respectful coexistence between all species: animals and non-animals.
Finally, it is an invitation to play, explore and exchange. For this reason, I invite you to put into practice and experiment on your own skin, empirically, all or some of the habit changes that I have been making and that were deepened during quarantine.
In a reversion of the feminist slogan “the personal is political”, I am proposing to you to peek in my privacy – more precisely, in some of my everyday practices- so as to encourage you to join in this transformation that necessarily and urgently has to be collective; therefore, political.
The reflections that intersect different dimensions regarding: a) environmental issues; b) economy and ways of indivual consumption of goods and c) self-care and well-being.
In each of them you will find questions, facts, tips, suggestions and images that are all based on empirical experience since I wouldn’t be able to share anything without first having lived it personally. If you are going through any kind of medical treatment, I strongly recommend to consult your professional first, for we are bodily equipped alike, but each organism responds differently, for example, to changes in diet.
Additionally, these aspects have to also be considered as a synthesis that articulates multiple readings2 over years of academic and not academic study, as well as travels around our unique planet.
One last comment: since childhood, curiousity shaped my way of relating to others and to what we call “reality”. Doubting, questioning and taking nothing as an absolute truth shaped my character. Nonetheless, a critical attitude towards life and reality did not prevent me for being deceived in many ways and opportunities. It did not prevent me to having experienced in the flesh what psychological and sexual gender violence means and implies.
After surving five years of daily abuse I came to comprehend that this was the cornerstone to start a slow but constant radical change. I had no excuses for I needed firstly to understand my own dark side: my miseries, weaknesses and fears that that were the magnet to fell attracted to a psychopathic bond based on the patriarchal domination model.
Like snakes, I had the opportunity to remove competely my skin from within (from the gut) hoping to become a better individual. At least, a bit better one.
Now, it is your turn.
Planet Earth: our common home
For decades we have witnessed the destruction of our Planet. We have witnessed the extintion of species, the plundering of natural resources, the massive destruction of eco-diversity, the contamination of air and water. All in the name of civilization, progress, development and growth.
For decades, we point out and accuse governments (of any party sign), we point out and accuse (transnational)companies and their lobbyists (of any industrial branch), we point out and accuse the collusion between States and Capital. In other words: the complicity between the public and the private, for the benefit of the latter and to the detriment of the general, popular and natural, interests.
Pointing out and accusing the external is comfortable, soothing and simplistic. Specially in times of social networks, for anyone can say anything without having to argue or demonstrate the validity of his/her proposition. That is to say that the index finger pointing out to others, is a good strategy to place ourselves out of the problem.
However, WE ARE THE PROBLEM. We all are accomplices to this particular crime. The difference, the only difference, is a matter of scale.
Why? Because the forms of consumption of objects (basic, ordinary and / or luxury ones) and experiences (such as going to dance, dine out or tourism) are linked to the forms of production of those objects and experiences. That is to say that whatever we buy is based on a dual domination: the appropriation model of nature and the exploitation of man by man. On a historical perspective, this dual domination exceeds the ideological: it happened and continues to happen regardless colonialism, (neo)liberalism, socialism, communism and so on.
So, I think that we have to reframe the discussion and focus on capitalism, as this is the economic, social and cultural form that imposed itself in the absence of alternatives after the fall of communism.
I was saying that we need to ask ourselveshow we came to believe that liberty, happiness and success are related to consumism.
Well, we also created various rhetorical devices that were used to contribute to shape this idea. Mass media, propaganda, marketing and publicity (and closer to the present: AI, logarithms, big data and fake news) are the weapons that did (and do) the dirty job so as to keep as unpolluted as possible the 18th century physiocrat maxim that states “laissez faire et laissez passer, le monde va de lui même” (“let do and let pass, the world goes on by itself”).
The fallacy of free-market and the allegedly market auto-regulation are things that came very clear during these past months. The state, as a form of organization, was created to preserve and protect private economic interests, well before the “invention” of representative democracy. It’s entlighting to review history from a critical perspective, as well as getting to know of the protectionist barriers to trade that countries like US impose to other nations. In addition, the pandemic gave us a chance perceive how these are categories that only work within their own theoretical framework. That is to say: only on paper. But they do have a very specific environmental and ideological effects. In simple words: they invite to the depredation of nature to activate commercial exchange (and the benefits that come along with it) and -in the same movement- they create, by other means, the conditions of truth (or truth effect) so that we naturalize the mechanism. I am talking about the perverse creation of false needs.
Go to your closet and check out how many pieces of garment you own and how many of them you haven’t used for months, maybe years. Count your pairs of shoes. Ask yourself how many times have you already changed your computer or mobile phone. Check your trash and see all the eatable left overs that you might throw away every now and then.
Your clothes come from natural and synthetic fabrics, the latters are produced with fossil energies (as all the plastic objects around us), computers and mobile phones need rare minerals that emerge from the bowels of our Common Home, leather and food comes from large-scale livestock and agriculture.
Open pit mining, fracking and deforestation for animal husbandry and agriculture are not delusions. These are facts. And they have been measured for decades to determine Earth Overshoot Day. That is: when human’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year
In 2020, Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 22. (…). For the rest of the year, we are maintaining our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.3
December 31st, 1970 was the last year that the balance came down to zero. Take into account that according to the United Nations Population Fund, the world population in 1970 was 3.7 billion inhabitants and at the present, we are almost 7.5 billion humanson Earth.
Do the maths and ask yourself if living as you usualy do is sustainable. Ask your self with brutal honesty and review your practices. You will notice -as I did- that they are small actions that can help to decrease your own carbon footprint that is directly related to climate change.
This is what came very clear to me.I had ran out of excuses to continue living as I was living. I became aware that every action, as insignificant as it may appear, has a positive impact on Earth.
So, I started my own personal change, convinced that it does no matter how insignificant these might be, because there is no such thing as irrelevant actions when awareness strikes you. Imagine if billions of us start making those small changes?
I started by modifying my diet. I almost stopped buying groceries in chain-supermarkets. Why? For these business are related to industrial food production, which -by the way- represent 70% of the world’s freshwater consumption, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
This simple shift alreadyhelps to reduce the water footprint on the planet.
But also, this change brings with it ecological, economic as well as social benefits. If we reduce or stop buying merchandise produced by the 10 transnational companies that monopolize food production worldwide (Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Mars, Mondelez, Danone, General Mills, Associated British Foods and Kellogg’s), we will generate a direct impact on our local/regional economies.
In other words, leaving supermarkets (or minimizing our purchases in them) mobilizes other productive sectors. Buying non-industrialized food, betting on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese, personal cleaning products of organic and / or agroecological origin is a way of direct transfer of resources to social organizations, cooperatives and groups of producers that choose to reduce their profits (fair trade) for the benefit of our land, air and water.
That is to say: we began to be part of a virtuous circle that takes care of our common home, redistributes wealth, generates work and improves the living conditions of thousands and thousands of people.
In addition, this shift positively impacts our health, as we stop introducing poisons and preservatives to our bodies, known as persistent toxic compounds. Try out a Mediterrean or vegetarian diet for a month, stop drinking soft drinks and experience a cleansing from the inside.
And if you want to strengthen your immune system and improve the absorption of nutrients, you can also try drinking natural lemon juice in a glass of warm water on an empty stomach every morning and grating a teaspoon of ginger with a few drops (again) of lemon juice before lunch and dinner and you will experience a noticeable improvement in your body.
I also started a orchard. During quarantine, I was able -for the fist time in my life- to germinate, watch grow, and consume vegetables and herbs that grew in my little yard.
You don’t need a lot of space to grow your own vegetables. Good sun light and a bit of dedication will bring you infinite joy. It is difficult to express with words the satisfaction of cutting celery or lettuce from my garden. To try a strawberry, to smell basil and lavander, while watering them fulfills my spirit. It also reminds me that we are all part of the cycle of nature. And that this cyclical rhythm of nature knows no rush. To connect with plant growth, reminds us that the urgencies we may have are often false. Gardening invites us to dismantle our neurosis. It invites to recognize that we are not important. At least as important as we tend to believe we are.
Gardening is a good wat to dismantle our ego, because we begin to perceive ourselves as part of the natural world. Gardening obliterates the very convenient and false separation between nature / civilization. Being close to plants, observing them with attention, teaches us the falsity of this dissociation that has only benefited global elites. Just keep in mind that around 2,153 billionaires own more wealth than 4,600 million people in the world.
Economic inequality – it is important to remember- is built on gender inequality, which is why the majority of people at the bottom of the social pyramid are women. These data were taken from OXAM International (https://www.oxfam.org).
This NGO also reveals that only 4% of the world’s tax collection comes from taxes on wealth “and there are studies that show that large fortunes evade up to 30% of their tax obligations”.
So, eating differently is as way to start swinging the scale in favor of the most disadvantaged.
But also, as we are what we eat and if we eat what we produce, in some away, we also feed ourselves with the loving energy that we give to our plants.
As I already mentioned: growing vegetables helps us to be aware of the cycles of nature, that is so generous with us. So generous that if, for expample, you leave one plant of lettuce to fullfill its cycle, you will have seeds for new home crops. Seeds that – by the way – you can also share with others so as to infect and enthuse them to also put their hands back on the ground.
I could spend hours listing the benefits of changing the ways you consume and feed yourself. For now, I invite you to make the first step to get back in tune with our Mother Earth. It is no longer just about reducing, reusing and recycling. Why? Because, as I mentioned at the beggining, it is time to take responsibility for our direct involvement in the destruction of the Nature. It is time to realize that each of us belong to the most harmful and dangerous animal species on the entire planet. The only one that exterminated other species equally (or even more) important to biodiversity, and the health of our Common Home, than us.