A Voice for Earth

A Voice for Earth: American Writers Respond to the Earth Charter

PETER BLAZE CORCORAN
A. JAMES WOHLPART
HOMERO ARIDJIS
TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS
AFTERWORD BY KAMLA CHOWDHRY
Editorial Assistant Brandon P. Hollingshead
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n8v3
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  • Book Info
    A Voice for Earth
    Book Description:

    A Voice for Earth is a collection of poems, essays, and stories that together give a voice to the ethical principles outlined in the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter was adopted in the year 2000 with the mission of addressing the economic, social, political, spiritual, and environmental problems confronting the world in the twenty-first century. Part 1 of the book, "Imagination into Principle," comprises Steven C. Rockefeller's behind-the-scenes summary of how the language for the Earth Charter was drafted. In part 2, "Principle into Imagination," ten writers breathe life into its concepts with their own original work. Contributors include Rick Bass, Alison Hawthorne Deming, John Lane, Robert Michael Pyle, Janisse Ray, Scott Russell Sanders, Lauret Savoy, and Mary Evelyn Tucker. In part 3, "Imagination and Principle into a New Ethic," Leonardo Boff offers a new paradigm created through reflecting on the concept of care in the Earth Charter.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4276-4
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword The Rights of Nature
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Homero Aridjis

    At this critical moment in the natural history of Earth, two hundred and nineteen years after the Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) was adopted in revolutionary France and sixty years after the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), it is time for the world community to embrace a global covenant that sets forth the fundamental Rights of Nature.

    We might wonder how countries that have yet to recognize officially or to honor fully human rights can be expected to respect the Rights of Nature. Yet the struggle for the safekeeping and survival of thousands...

  5. Foreword Taking the Globe to Our Bosom
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    Terry Tempest Williams

    The United Nations is an ideal, and it remains so. Its charter articulates its vision “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” Each time I enter its hallowed space designed for dialogue and shared power, I find my wearied hope revived. Especially in times of war, the rigidity of nationalism becomes the embrace of humanity. Possibility replaces inevitability.

    In this same way, the Earth Charter is an ideal. It is a visionary document that creates a template for ecological consciousness around the...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxx)
    A. James Wohlpart and Peter Blaze Corcoran

    Twenty years ago a call was issued for “new norms for state and interstate behaviour needed to maintain livelihoods and life on our shared planet.”¹ The World Commission on Environment and Development (wced), chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland, wrote in its classic Our Common Future, “there is now a need to consolidate and extend relevant legal principles in a new charter to guide state behaviour in the transition to sustainable development.”² The wced was convinced “that the security, well-being, and very survival of the planet depend on such changes, now.”³ In the lead-up to the 1992 Rio United Nations Conference...

  7. Imagination into Principle
    • Crafting Principles for the Earth Charter
      (pp. 3-23)
      Steven C. Rockefeller

      The Earth Charter, completed and launched in 2000, is a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful world. It is the product of a ten-year, worldwide, cross-cultural dialogue on common goals and shared values. The objective of the consultation and drafting process was to help crystallize and articulate the consensus on shared values related to sustainable development taking form in the emerging global civil society. This essay endeavors to describe the Earth Charter consultation and drafting process and presents examples of how controversial issues and complex problems were addressed. Some issues were resolved quickly, and others...

    • The Earth Charter
      (pp. 24-34)

      We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that...

  8. Principle into Imagination:: Literary Responses to the Earth Charter
    • Owning the Imperatives: A Poem for the Earth Charter
      (pp. 37-39)
      Alison Hawthorne Deming
    • Learning to See the Stars: The Earth Charter as a Compass for the New Century
      (pp. 40-53)
      Mary Evelyn Tucker

      Some years ago in Hawai’i I attended an International World History Conference that was organized around the theme of oceans in world history. At the opening dinner of the conference Nainoa Thompson, a young Hawaiian sail master with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, told the story of the Hokulea voyages that re-created the earlier Pacific journeys from Hawai’i south to Tahiti. These voyages took place in the centuries of great oceanic migrations in the Pacific from approximately 700 AD to 1400 AD. Hokulea is the name given to the canoe built for these voyages and is translated as “Star of Gladness”...

    • Remembering the Ancient Path: The Original Instructions and the Earth Charter
      (pp. 54-60)
      Chief Jake Swamp

      The Earth Charter is the most important document in our time, as humans living on Planet Earth. It is important for several reasons. It is a way to open the human eyes so that every living thing will have value, spiritual value. It is a way to open the human heart so that nature will find a home. The human will finally learn to give thanks every day to all of creation. From the very souls of men and women and all of the children we can learn to give thanks.

      We can offer special thanks every day to our...

    • Lake Conestee
      (pp. 61-67)
      John Lane

      Dave Hargett’s dream for Lake Conestee isn’t really visible from the parking lot of the Racecar Speedy Mart. The impressive nineteenth-century stone dam on the Reedy River in Greenville, South Carolina, is in clear view though, and the boarded-up textile mill, closed twenty years ago, crowds in everyone’s line of sight just off Conestee Road. To anyone driving past, the eighteen of us—two Wofford College professors, fifteen college students, and Dave—look a little suspicious, standing among the fire ant hills and stunted pines on the ridge above the river.

      It’s early fall and in only the minute or...

    • Restoration: A Plan
      (pp. 68-79)
      Rick Bass

      I despair often, when I consider the challenges we face in attempting not just to hold the line on our ever-diminishing American wilderness, but to restore some of the elements—almost ghosts, now—that are so critical to the spirit and function of that wildness. The grizzly bear that feeds upon and then disperses in its scat the seed caches of whitebark pine, stored in mounds along the windiest, most remote ridgetops by the raucous-shouting Clark’s nutcrackers. The black-backed woodpeckers hammering on the drums of the remaining spars of burned and “unsalvaged” lodgepole in remote forests, swarming the dead and...

    • Wilderness as a Sabbath for the Land
      (pp. 80-89)
      Scott Russell Sanders

      If you honor the sabbath in any way, or if you respect the beliefs of those who do, or if you merely suspect there may be some wisdom bound up in this ancient practice, then you should protect wilderness. For wilderness represents in space what the sabbath represents in time—a limit to our dominion, a refuge from the quest for power and wealth, an acknowledgment that Earth does not belong to us.

      In scriptures that have inspired Christians, Muslims, and Jews, we are told to remember the sabbath and keep it holy by making it a day of rest...

    • Who
      (pp. 90-91)
      Robert Michael Pyle
    • Broad Water, Distant Land
      (pp. 92-106)
      Stuart Ching

      When I was a boy, at our yearly family parties at Popo’s (Grandmother’s) house in Kapahulu, amid the kitchen smells of fried noodles, crispy gaugee, and roasted chicken, one Chinese aunt would gaze admiringly at me and say, “Stuart look like Hawaiian boy. Stuart no look like Chinese boy!”

      “Ho shoo!” Popo would brag, “All the senior citizens at Paki Park ask me, ‘Your grandson part-Hawaiian? Your son marry Hawaiian?’ Yah, Stuart look like Hawaiian boy.”

      Throughout my childhood, I passed as Hawaiian. Many years later as an adult, I began differentiating passing as Hawaiian and truly advocating Hawaiian indigenous...

    • Possibility Begins Here
      (pp. 107-112)
      Lauret Savoy

      Once I was a horse, an Appaloosa wild and full of speed. I would run fast—up and down sidewalks, around the school playground and our yard—just to feel wind rush with me and, sometimes, to run away from what I feared. In the late 1960s the world seemed to have moved beyond sense: race riots near our home, the Vietnam “war” and its casualties, killings of “good” men, and in my own family palpable silence and bitterness.

      At eight years of age I came to know and fear hatred-filled words spat on me because of my brown skin....

    • Hope for Democracy
      (pp. 113-126)
      Janisse Ray

      The morning after the 2004 presidential election my husband thinks that I’m sleeping and silently gets out of bed. It’s 5:00 A.M. I’ve lain awake an hour, wondering who will be our president come January. I remember a time when our country went to bed on Election Night knowing the outcome, but since the election of 2000, nothing is certain. I find Raven downstairs, listening to the radio in the Vermont dark.

      “Still undecided,” he says grimly.

      “How can that be?”

      “Florida went to Bush, so he’s in the lead. There are two points between him and Kerry.”

      “Are all...

  9. Imagination and Principle into a New Ethic
    • The Ethic of Care
      (pp. 129-145)
      Leonardo Boff

      Among so many other fine things, the Earth Charter proposes a new way of seeing that gives rise to a new ethic. The new way of seeing is understanding the inter- and retro-connections of all with all, for “Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.”¹ Likewise, the new ethic, consistent with the new way of seeing, is based on the four creative energies of ecologically healthy human reality, called Parts in the Earth Charter, namely: (1) respect and care for the community of life; (2) ecological integrity; (3) social and...

  10. Afterword
    (pp. 146-148)
    Kamla Chowdhry

    Historically, when humanity reaches new lows, someone or something happens. With the despair and degradation that accompanied colonialism, Gandhi happened in India and Nelson Mandela happened in South Africa. Both Gandhi and Mandela changed the map of the world. With the rise of industrialization and globalization, our society as a whole is in deep crisis. We read about the many manifestations of industrialization and globalization in the papers. Besides the mutilation and degradation of Earth, there is high unemployment, high poverty, high corruption, high pollution, high crime, and high suicide rates. The way we have used our science and technology...

  11. Contributors
    (pp. 149-157)