Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gaia: Where the Heart Is

Law of nature is defined as the regulation of conduct based on God. If you don't have a God, then morality. If you don't have even that, then conscience. Beyond that, you're just hopeless.

Laws created by men, on the other hand, are intended to impose order in society. In the Philippine society, laws on environmental protection find primary legal basis in the 1987 Constitution, which says that: "The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature." (Article II, Section 16)

According to Atty. Antonio Oposa, Jr., the pioneering environmental lawyer in the country, our government has enacted about 118 environmental related laws. It is believed that we have one of the most voluminous set of environmental laws in Asia. But how it all turned out, personally I think it's too little, too late.

As a Cree Indian prophecy goes: "Only after the last tree has been cut down; Only after the last fish has been caught; Only after the last river has been poisoned; Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten."

Perhaps we should all stop in our tracks and remind ourselves why these laws were made in the first place. Are the issues which these laws address critical to our lives? Continued survival of the earth and our species? Duh. Who benefits from them? Everyone. Even if you do live under a rock. And even if you haven't been born yet.

Because underlying all these laws is the "trust doctrine", which proceeds from the premise that humankind, supposedly the most intelligent in the animal kingdom, are only the trustees of the earth. Future generations of humankind and other life forms are the beneficiaries of our trust. So if we misappropriate for our generation's exclusive use and benefit the earth's natural resources, robbing future generations of their birthright, we breach that trust.

It's important to realize that our responsibility in making our plant green extends from the 'here and now' onto ensuring a better place for future generations to live in. These are our kids, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, and all their children. When it's our turn to go, we will not only leave them with our jewelry, furniture, the Mercedes Benz, the resthouse, even our freakin' Facebook accounts if anyone cares. We will also leave behind with them the oceans, rivers, mountains, skies, the soil, the air. The family code is explicit on the parent's obligation to provide food, clothing, shelter and education. Unspoken is the incidental responsibility to make sure that children and their children will have pure water to drink, clean air to breathe, fertile lands to grow their food on, pristine seas to enjoy with their own families when they go on vacations: a world where they will not live in fear of extreme, frequent and unpredictable storms, floods, heat waves, drought. We must allow them to live in ways that we have been allowed to live. But better. Much, much better.

The way I see it, we are murdering our own children. Right now, right here, by our very own hands. We are killing them by turning off their very life support system - the earth. By this, we are not only violating the laws of man. We are violating the highest law of nature.

We are better than this. We must try harder. More than what the law calls for, let's do what justice demands. We owe it to all those we are responsible for bringing into the world. And, most especially, we owe it to the Divine Architect, who entrusted His Creation to us. We forget that God created man on the sixth day. After he had made sure that all we could possibly need to live abundantly were there. He prepared everything so we could live comfortably.

We can say thanks a million times for all the blessings that we've gotten but if we are truly, truly grateful, let's express that gratitude tangibly. Show it. Be it.

Let's start with our piece of the world. Here. Now. Today.

Let's start with our piece of the earth.