The Parliament of Animals

Day #8 – Monday, July 22, 2013

Today is Henk’s day. The main topic is’ The Contradictory Dynamics and Necessary Reconciliation between Human Flourishing and Sustainable Development: Rethinking the Relationship between Ecology, Ethics and Cultural Pluralism.” But before entering Henk’s sessions, Caroline led us to reflect on our trip to Byatha Village two days ago. Although visiting the same village, but point of view of each participant can be different. Jette sees the production of biogas from cow dung as a local knowledge, Edwin interested in knowing God in a figure of woman, as well as how woman are placed as leader. Tim observed that men remain dominant for speech. Vaneesha interested in the story of the Goddess. Hasnain sees there is business involvement associated with emo birds that exist in the village. Justine commented on the plates used to entertain us, “everything use for purpose”, she said. Ronald was asked for NGO or CSO interventions. There are reflective questions about the rural as an imagination and the future of rural. I still doubt whether the existence of the so-called women panchayat leaders from Dalit community is a form of empowerment of women, or she merely an icon. I know, Dalitology based on three things: earth-centric, woman-centric and body-centric. But, could we assume just by few hours visit? I’m not sure. However any opinions appear, all participants agreed that the visit to Byata Village is pleasant, also that is happy to see the Dalit community on that place can live side by side with upper-caste.

Now, back to Henk’s session. The first thesis raised on issue that human behavior seriously endangers the continued existence of life on earth. And the question is, ‘human development is too disconnected from sustainable development?’ To answer that, Henk asked us to watch a short movie about an Indian woman named Vandana Shiva, then answer the guidance questions that have been provided. That’s interesting. For me, she was not talking about food security and food sovereignty only, but she also talked about human dignity and harmony between humans and the earth. It’s just, how could these kind of initiatives can be done in large-scale? Henk said that there are many fundamental questions about life, especially because we are now living in a different situation than before. How anthropocentric cosmology that can be shifted into earth-centric? At this morning’s session, we also introduced on the Human Development Index and the Ecological Footprints measurement. Some of the things we’ve heard, some mention is something new, or at least, has not been tried. We are aware that the effect of disregarding the intrinsic value of the earth are the growing destruction of the natural environment world wide, and the growing tensions around basic natural resources.

The second thesis is human are challenged to rethink their interaction with life on earth. And the question is, ‘does this imply a new understanding of who we are as human being?’ How can we take all the life on the earth personally and conceptually? We shared many of the incidents that made us, as human being, to fear with the nature but also to found ourselves grateful for the nature. We also try to recognize interdependence and understanding of human and nature co-existence through three challenges. First, the idea of the planet as a community, when we talk about eco versus ego, hierarchy versus co-existence. Second, expand the notion of dignity, when we talk about life dignify about for animals. Third, diversities as a key characteristic of life.

In the second challenge, we formed four groups. Namely the whale, the chimpanzee, the eagle and the cow. We discuss a dignified life for these animals and spoke on behalf of the animals of each group is represented by mentioning capabilities that animals should have to live with dignity. Still is difficult to actually shift the paradigm of anthropocentric to be earth-centric, but at least that consciousness is trying to be built. That is our parliament of animals of the day.

Well, I understand that rethink and discuss the relationship between ecology and human is complicated. And if we talk about sustainability development, domain not only ecological and human (social), but there are also economic and political. The last two things I mentioned is often a major scourge that prevent the achievement of sustainable development. For we are gifted by the earth, but robbed by our greedy. Is shrink our ecology footprint is enough? Yes, it was really good, but is it enough to keep pace with the destruction of nature that carried out in the name of development? I’m not sure.

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