Since the industrial revolution, Nature has basically been treated as a commodity that exists largely for the benefit of people. However, we need to recognise that the rapid environmental degradation we are all experiencing is the result of unsustainable consumption and production patterns which have led to adverse consequences for both the Earth and the health and overall well-being of humanity.
As a consequence, the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 22 April as International Mother Earth Day acknowledging that the Earth and its ecosystems are our common home, and expressed their conviction that it is necessary to promote Harmony with Nature in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations.
“The land is the mother and we are of the land; we do not own the land rather the land owns us. The land is our food, our culture, our spirit and our identity.”1
Dennis Foley, a Gai-mariagal and Wiradjuri man, and Fulbright scholar.
The biggest difference in our behaviour will come when we stop seeing ourselves as separate to the environment but realise that we, along with the rest of the natural world, are all interconnected, interdependent and interrelated within the larger web of life.
“We are part of a natural and social web of life that supports and sustains us. We are connected to nature and dependent on it for the things we need to keep us alive. We are also connected to our family and friends and our community. We depend on others in many ways and they depend on us too. We need others; others need us.”2
Photo by Fir0002
In Australia, Mother Earth Day is a day to learn from First Nations’ Peoples and their relationship with Country.
Palyku woman Ambelin Kwaymullina explains:
“For Aboriginal peoples, country is much more than a place. Rock, tree, river, hill, animal, human – all were formed of the same substance by the Ancestors who continue to live in land, water, sky. Country is filled with relations speaking language and following Law, no matter whether the shape of that relation is human, rock, crow, wattle. Country is loved, needed, and cared for, and country loves, needs, and cares for her peoples in turn. Country is family, culture, identity. Country is self.”3
Catherine Liddle, Arrente and Luritja woman, and Aboriginal activist says:
“To not know your country causes a painful disconnection, the impact of which is well documented in studies relating to health, wellbeing and life outcomes… It is this knowledge that enables me to identify who I am, who my family is, who my ancestors were and what my stories are. We are indistinguishable from our country which is why we fight so hard to hang on.”4
Bob Randall, a Yankunytjatjara elder and traditional owner of Uluru, explains his connectedness to the land and how every living thing is connected to every other living thing:
“Life is the binding and the connecting way oneness is. If you are alive you are connected to everything else that is alive. And the oneness includes everything that is around us. …
.. the granny law has given me my responsibility now that I am grown up to care for my country, care for my mother (pointing at the ground), care for everything that is around me – the oneness, the completeness of that oneness – to be responsible in caring in every single way….
You feel good when you’re in that space and you kind of feel you’re living with family when you include everything that is alive in that space. And that it’s a huge space … “
Hear more from Bob Randall in this video:
Let’s remind ourselves on this International Mother Earth Day that we need a shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet. Let’s learn from Australia’s First Peoples how we can live in harmony with nature and the Earth.
Join the global movement to restore our world!