Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The perfect gift for Mother Earth

What are you going to give Mother Earth for mother's day this year?

Whatever it is, your gift might have a hard time competing with what Bolivia is considering: her legal rights.

A recent article in Yes! Magazine highlights the movement of indigenous people and small-scale farmers in Bolivia who are advocating that their government pass a "Mother Earth" law. And it looks like they're going to succeed.

Based on the indigenous concept of Pachamama (Mother Earth), the law would state, “Mother Earth is a living dynamic system made up of the undivided community of all living beings, who are all interconnected, interdependent and complementary, sharing a common destiny.” It would require all existing and future laws to incorporate the rights of nature, and would shift the focus of Bolivia's economy and society to another indigenous concept, Sumaj Kawsay--living in harmony with nature and people. I suggest reading the article to learn more.

Bolivia is not the first country with this idea. Ecuador was actually the first to write Mother Earth's rights into its constitution, which it did so in 2008.

Communities across the U.S. have started to jump on board, too. For example, last November Pittsburgh, PA passed a law banning fracking, the hot new way to suck natural gas from the ground...and by hot, I mean horrible. The process contaminates drinking water and soil with highly flammable gas and toxic chemicals. This law essentially put the rights of nature above the rights of the natural gas-hungry corporations.

The ecofeminism movement is also a passenger on this startup bandwagon. Ecofeminists generally agree that humans must end the patriarchal domination of nature and recognize Mother Earth and all her children as our equals.

There is even a global grassroots campaign advocating for the long-ignored rights of nature to be ignored no more. So, you too could organize your community to participate in the nascent groundswell.

But even if you can't rally your grass roots to start a movement for Mother Earth's rights between now and this Mother's Day, consider doing something special for her at least. Maybe abstain from gas-fueled transportation for the day or volunteer for a local ecological restoration project. Whatever it is, make it a gift from the heart.

Read more on nature's rights here and here.


  1. Great post, Jenny, and timely. Is there a lovelier way to celebrate Mother's Day, besides honoring *the* mother? You do a great job here of giving us resources we can use to put our thoughts into action. I hope you have a great Mother's day celebrating both your human mom and mother earth!

  2. These efforts remind me that thoughtful, unselfish politics are possible. I hope this type of collaboration spreads.

  3. Very interesting post, Jenny! I agree with Victoria that it's neat how you tied your post in with Mother's Day.

  4. Nice intertwining of the holidays. Everyone should take the time to thank the "Big Momma" Earth. But with actions, not words. Fat chance. Apologies for pessimism...