CELDF’s National Organizing Director Ben Price remembers 2008, when CELDF assisted in the drafting of Rights of Nature provisions for Ecuador’s new constitution. The Ecuadorian people adopted their new constitution overwhelmingly, with nearly 64% of the vote. Today, Rights of Nature is a growing global movement.
“When the tide of history changes, you can feel strong currents and undertows all around you,” reflects Ben Price, CELDF’s National Organizer Director. “When Ecuador followed the lead of little Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, by recognizing in law the intrinsic, unalienable Rights of Nature, I could feel the sea change and I knew that although it would take time, in the end, nothing would ever be the same.”
Our instincts were right, and all the pragmatic reasons why it is not practical to recognize unalienable rights for Nature are manifestly wrong.
Still engaged in the work a decade later, Price realizes that “our instincts were right, and all the pragmatic reasons why it is not practical to recognize unalienable rights for Nature are manifestly wrong. Materialism is literally substance abuse. We can either awaken from the pipe dream of dominion over the world or perish in our self-delusion. The era of the reign of property and wealth are coming to an end. The Earth won’t long suffer to be enslaved by greed and the philosophy of the parasite. The project of turning the living world into money and power has failed to serve people or Nature.”
When asked how the work has grown and changed, Price recognizes that “the movement for the Rights of Nature has taken on a life of its own. Dozens of U.S. communities have enacted legal recognition of the rights of ecosystems. Native American councils have taken up the cause, and other nation-states, like India, New Zealand and Bolivia have taken action. The idea that Nature has rights offends only those whose privilege and power are threatened by the thought that they may no longer act with impunity toward the world on which we depend for health and life. It is a wholesome, common sense, normal notion that, as the people stir from the long coma of civilization under the dictatorship of greed, the Rights of Nature will eventually gain universal acceptance.”
Price feels it is now important to acknowledge that “it isn’t the invocation of human law, but a nurturing spirit that will lead eventually to right-relationship with the world. We have embarked on a mission to change the human paradigm, to reject the naive philosophy of human exceptionalism and separateness from Nature. For now, as we begin to resist and cure the pathology of empire built upon the legal fiction of property, we must rely on new life-affirming laws that will act like counter-spells to the trance-inducing legal deceptions of the past.”
International Rights of Nature Symposium
September 27 – 28, 2018
This Thursday and Friday! Rights of Nature champions from around the world are gathering in Quito, Ecuador, for this week’s International Rights of Nature Symposium and celebration, including CELDF’s Mari Margil, Associate Director and leader of our International Center for the Rights of Nature.
Today, CELDF has assisted more than thirty communities in the United States to adopt laws recognizing the rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish. We are working with our partners in India to advance the rights of the Ganges River, in Nepal to recognize the rights of the Himalayas, in Australia to to recognize the Rights of the Great Barrier Reef, and dozens of other countries and communities around the globe.
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Featured image: Hibiscus Blooms by Les Williams, Flickr Creative Commons