Connection to Country

Applying the Dharma for the preservation of planet Earth and its inhabitants
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SethRich
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Connection to Country

Post by SethRich » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:29 am

Greetings,
This is the land. This is the sky.
Here are my friends, and here am I.

We give thanks to the people of the Kulin nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather, learn and play today.
The above is an "acknowledgement of country" given at my youngest sons' "Rhyme Time" sessions at the local Library. From an early age, Australian children are now learning to acknowledge and appreciate the land on which they live, and those who have been the custodians of it, over time.

There are more adult-centric "acknowledgements of country", but this example is more specifically targeted on this "connection to country".

This theme of "connection to country" comes though also in Aboriginal practices like Wayapa, which comes in two forms - one a meditation, the other a form of yoga - which acknowledge and pay respect to the 14 Fundamental Elements (PDF). (See also: Wayapa Practice (PDF))



These practices help to cultivate and deepen connection to country.

I am not aboriginal myself, but I have always lived in the same state, in the same country. My parents are each born in this country. Their parents were each born in this country. Whilst somewhere back in the family tree, there are connections England, Ireland, Scotland, Prussia etc. I have never had a relative during my lifetime who was not both born, and living in Australia. I even have at least one distant relative who was a convict.

The places where I live, earn, and play, are all within a few kilometres of each other, and this particular area has been my home for seventeen years. As such, I feel a genuine "connection to country", and like the traditional custodians of old, I find a sense of ownership and responsibility for my engagement with that country. Feeling this responsibility and accountability, I am more inclined to do things that contribute to a healthy, sustainable environment.

You may wonder where I'm going with this. Basically, I want to challenge the prevailing maxim of environmental activism that says we should "Think global, act local", and instead, that it would be better if it was changed to "Think local, act local".

I have heard it said that the more abstract something is, the more difficult people find it to relate to on a personal level. For example, climate is an abstraction from the weather, climate change is a higher-order abstraction from climate. Greenhouse gases cannot be seen, and climate modelling requires complex computations, which themselves are models and abstractions, aiming to forecast abstractions as best they can.

On the other hand, if people are encouraged to "think local, act local" then their actions will be focused on positive, tangible, observable outcomes. They will feel a connection that they cannot feel to greenhouse gas emissions, when they know that their personal contribution is a minuscule fraction compared to that of say, China. Being able to discern cause and effect, and make a visible difference, individuals will be more likely to act as true custodians for their little corner of the world. Seeing their volitional voluntary actions actually make a difference, they will avoid feeling the frustration, anger, resentment and impotency that so often plague hardcore environmentalists who cannot, for all their arm waving, impose and force individuals, corporations and governments to enact the changes that they believe are required.

And then, after all that, if you do insist on taking it back to a global level, the sum of all those individual actions and contributions will, I believe, be more than if they did not "think local, act local".

Please share any related thoughts, experiences, and queries.

:candle:
Last edited by SethRich on Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."

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SethRich
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Re: Connection to Country

Post by SethRich » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:47 am

Greetings,

As an addendum to the above, here is something I read on the Internet... (coloured for emphasis)
Roger Scruton has both written and spoken quite prolifically on the subject of environmentalism.

His main work on the subject, How to Think Seriously about the Planet: the case for an environmental conservatism, is available free online, link, and seems to have drawn very favourable reviews from the right and qualifiedly favourable ones even from the left.

Here's a short interview where he discusses the book.



From John Brown, one of the reader-reviewers at Amazon:
Roger Scruton, a British author, spent the better part of a year accumulating the background information for this book. The result is an extremely rewarding and educational treatise on what works and what doesn't work in terms of getting people to change their behavior to improve the environment.

Much of the book is based around the concept of oikophilia, which is roughly translated as "love of home." Human beings have a difficult time relating to things that are far removed from their everyday experience. International treaties, for example, mean little or nothing to them, whereas protecting their property from things that might cause damage is readily comprehended.

Regulations made by bureaucrats at the European Union, or even by our own Environmental Protection Administration, engender little in the way of warm feelings that can be translated into individual action. Rules that forbid taking measures to improve one's private property (such as rules against filling in "wetlands") elicit frustration and anger; why not improve your land so as to make it more habitable to yourself and your heirs?

Scruton shows that many government regulations are counterproductive. For instance, regulations requiring packaging of food products leads to proliferation of non-biodegradable plastics that pile up in spaces where they will degrade the environment for generations to come. The author asks why local farmers cannot present their wares for sale in local (mom and pop) grocery stores, without wrapping everything in plastic? The advent of supermarkets has improved access to food while simultaneously contributing to an environmental disaster.

Essentially, the conservative approach to environmental issues is predicated on taking into account the natural tendency of people to love their home, and want to protect it. Governments have tried to take the easy road of grinding out regulations that are neither appreciated or understood. The little platoons, such as neighborhood improvement associations, bring people together with their neighbors to deal with common concerns. Big government is more likely to drive out these organizations by legislation and administrative regulations, which do not work overall.

I doubt that anyone will be able to "speed read" this book and get much out of it. My own experience was to read every sentence and reflect on its meaning at length. We owe a debt of appreciation to this scholar from across the Atlantic, and I hope that his efforts will be well rewarded by an improved approach to conservation of our resources.
:candle:
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."

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Dharmasherab
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Re: Connection to Country

Post by Dharmasherab » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:19 am

In Buddhism, one of the main obstacles to overcome is the illusion of self-identity. Our sense of self-identity tends to take root in four different domains which are body (kaya), feelings (vedana), mind (citta) and mental objects (dhamma). The feeling that one belongs to a certain demographic category and the development of an identity around that takes place at the level of mental objects where our mind constructs a false sense of identity based on which language, which ethnic group or which country which we are born in.

Therefore the sense of national identity and other attributes associated with such an identity such as patriotism and nationalism binds one to Samsara by reinforcing the illusion of self-identity.

The beings in the pure realms look at our realms as dirt, and look at as if we are made of dirt which comes from the soil, doesnt matter which country we are born in, whether it is Zambia, U.S.A, Bangladesh or Germany - they all look the same to the beings in the pure abodes. Our bodies appear like substances that consume feces and produce impurities to beings that live in the pure abodes.

Also when we appreciate the view of rebirth as it mentioned in the Right View of the N8FP, throughout our past lives we have taken up various different types of identities in various different modalities in terms of not only nationality, but ethnic group, linguistic group, sex, sexuality, political views etc. So when we appreciate the vastness of our past lives, our current identity seems almost highly insignificant.

Also all these nations are the result of causes and conditions, so when we attach to these things which are the result of causes and condition then the end result is suffering. Because all things which arise from causes and conditions are subject to change and they dont stay the same. The countries with their borders with their constitutions have not existed forever, and prior to this in the same area of land there have been various regimes and empires that arose and fell throughout the centuries. Likewise the nation states we have today will undergo change such as change in borders, splinter into different sub-states or change into an entirely different country.

Here are some examples - Yugoslavia was a country which later got splintered into several different countries. UK which was a former member of the European Union (which is a bit like a superstate like USA) has applied to leave the EU and will become a sovereign state. In the future UK may get further fragmented into Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. India used to be a big country but later it divided into Pakistan and India. Germany used to be West Germany and East Germany but later rejoined. The USA may fracture into different states with each state wanting their own sovereignty and independence from centralised rule. So all these nations which are the results of causes and conditions are subject to change and impermanent. If we grasp these things as part of our 'self' then at some point it would create suffering.

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SethRich
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Re: Connection to Country

Post by SethRich » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:56 am

Greetings,
Dharmasherab wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:19 am
In Buddhism, one of the main obstacles to overcome is the illusion of self-identity...
Of course, but when there are places you go in life, and places you do not go, then there is going to be greater familiarity, engagement, custodianship and opportunities to make positive contributions on the land that one owns or one frequents, moreso than distant lands seen only in passing, or through a television screen. There is a greater resonance and local knowledge, and that is what is being communicated here, regarding environmentalism.
Dharmasherab wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:19 am
The feeling that one belongs to a certain demographic category and the development of an identity around that takes place at the level of mental objects where our mind constructs a false sense of identity based on which language, which ethnic group or which country which we are born in.
I have a slightly different view in this regard. By my reckoning and through observation of people, putthujjanas will invariably identity with something. If they do not identify with their home, they will identify with their gender, or their race, or their place of origin, or their sexuality, or some other identity construct.

I think it is better and more harmonious for people of the same place to identify as being of that place, because this then is actually a shared commonality and heritage of people who engage with one another on a daily basis. When the call to identity is focused on other attributes, people in the same place can become adversarial with one another on the basis of those identity constructs. Again, none of that is specifically related to the environment, but I'd rather people have an appreciation and respect of the elements (with the four of Buddhism, or the fourteen of Wayapa), than find their identity in abstractions and papañca-saññā-sankhā.
Dharmasherab wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:19 am
Therefore the sense of national identity and other attributes associated with such an identity such as patriotism and nationalism binds one to Samsara by reinforcing the illusion of self-identity.
For the reasons specified above, I believe nationalism and patriotism are not the demons that globalists make them out to be.
Dharmasherab wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:19 am
The beings in the pure realms look at our realms as dirt, and look at as if we are made of dirt which comes from the soil, doesnt matter which country we are born in, whether it is Zambia, U.S.A, Bangladesh or Germany - they all look the same to the beings in the pure abodes. Our bodies appear like substances that consume feces and produce impurities to beings that live in the pure abodes.
To be clear, I do not recall saying that national boundaries should define place. Place is to the individual, whatever they perceive it as.

You go on to say a lot more about identity, nations and such - none of which is necessarily wrong per se, and I shan't bother to argue for or against it, but to avoid repeating myself, I will simply say that this is a topic about what relationship to the external world will produce the best environmental outcomes. Frankly, to feel in harmony with the local environment and in mutual dependence with it, rather than to feel alien, detached and divorced from it, intuitively seems like it's bound to produce better environmental outcomes. I invite anyone to disagree with that perspective, and explain why they believe it is otherwise.

Kind regards.

:candle:
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Connection to Country

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:44 am

SethRich wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:29 am
Greetings,
This is the land. This is the sky.
Here are my friends, and here am I.

We give thanks to the people of the Kulin nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather, learn and play today.
The above is an "acknowledgement of country" given at my youngest sons' "Rhyme Time" sessions at the local Library. From an early age, Australian children are now learning to acknowledge and appreciate the land on which they live, and those who have been the custodians of it, over time.

There are more adult-centric "acknowledgements of country", but this example is more specifically targeted on this "connection to country".

This theme of "connection to country" comes though also in Aboriginal practices ... These practices help to cultivate and deepen connection to country.

I am not aboriginal myself, but ... The places where I live, earn, and play, are all within a few kilometres of each other, and this particular area has been my home for seventeen years. As such, I feel a genuine "connection to country", and like the traditional custodians of old, I find a sense of ownership and responsibility for my engagement with that country. Feeling this responsibility and accountability, I am more inclined to do things that contribute to a healthy, sustainable environment.

You may wonder where I'm going with this. Basically, I want to challenge the prevailing maxim of environmental activism that says we should "Think global, act local", and instead, that it would be better if it was changed to "Think local, act local".

I have heard it said that the more abstract something is, the more difficult people find it to relate to on a personal level. For example, climate is an abstraction from the weather, climate change is a higher-order abstraction from climate. Greenhouse gases cannot be seen, and climate modelling requires complex computations, which themselves are models and abstractions, aiming to forecast abstractions as best they can.

On the other hand, if people are encouraged to "think local, act local" then their actions will be focused on positive, tangible, observable outcomes. They will feel a connection that they cannot feel to greenhouse gas emissions, when they know that their personal contribution is a minuscule fraction compared to that of say, China. Being able to discern cause and effect, and make a visible difference, individuals will be more likely to act as true custodians for their little corner of the world. Seeing their volitional voluntary actions actually make a difference, they will avoid feeling the frustration, anger, resentment and impotency that so often plague hardcore environmentalists who cannot, for all their arm waving, impose and force individuals, corporations and governments to enact the changes that they believe are required.

And then, after all that, if you do insist on taking it back to a global level, the sum of all those individual actions and contributions will, I believe, be more than if they did not "think local, act local".

Please share any related thoughts, experiences, and queries.

:candle:
Good topic, good post. :thumb:

"Connection to country" is something that I'm very conscious of in both senses - as a sign of respect for indigenous people, and as something I feel myself through long residence in this area, albeit as a child of migrants.

I agree that most of us will commit more readily to actions which have visible connections to local problems, and I think that anything which gets people involved in (e.g.) beach clean-ups or weeding the local riverbanks is good. So far, so good for "think local, act local".
The problem I see is that the slogan makes us short-sighted. If we don't think beyond our own little patch of home territory then, for instance, we may clean up our beach but not do anything to stop the flow of rubbish into the oceans and onto our beach. We can very easily find ourselves dealing with symptoms, rather than causes.
So we do need that higher-level, more abstract, view.
Climate change is a classic instance. It has been described as a super wicked problem https://chrisriedy.me/climate-change-is ... e2b77d947d for good reasons.
It's too slow for most people to notice it happening in their own lives, and it is, as you say, very abstract and technical. But the consequences of ignoring it (whether we're mad about cricket, or focused on local issues) are likely to be catastrophic. Climate change is the underlying cause of many of the problems which the world is now experiencing, and if we don't address that cause we will be overwhelmed by its symptoms.
And we can't address the cause locally.
:thinking:
However, if the people who would otherwise ignore global problems - plastic, climate change, species loss, hybrid grains, whatever - are encouraged to act locally and then educated to expand their focus from the problems to their causes, then we have a win-win scenario.

:namaste:
Kim

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DNS
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Re: Connection to Country

Post by DNS » Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:49 pm

SethRich wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:29 am
I am not aboriginal myself, but I have always lived in the same state, in the same country. My parents are each born in this country. Their parents were each born in this country. Whilst somewhere back in the family tree, there are connections England, Ireland, Scotland, Prussia etc. I have never had a relative during my lifetime who was not both born, and living in Australia.
Maybe you need to get outside of Australia and do some more traveling? :D

I've lived in 3 different countries and have visited about 30 different nations. My father was in the military and then later on my own, did some traveling. So, I've always been somewhat of a globalist, while still recognizing my connection to my citizenship and country. But that doesn't make me a pinko-commie. I'm still a free-market capitalist. I would like to see mixed-economies, mostly free-markets throughout the world, so that there can be less poverty and 'First World' status would not just be for a few nations, but all of them. I'm not saying you oppose that, but just mentioning that being somewhat of a globalist, one can still support free markets.
The places where I live, earn, and play, are all within a few kilometres of each other, and this particular area has been my home for seventeen years. As such, I feel a genuine "connection to country", and like the traditional custodians of old, I find a sense of ownership and responsibility for my engagement with that country. Feeling this responsibility and accountability, I am more inclined to do things that contribute to a healthy, sustainable environment.
Yes, I agree with this, having a sense of ownership, makes you want to care for it. In the same way, one can support free-market economic systems and still be an environmentalist. see for example:

See:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/vol ... rotection/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free-mark ... nmentalism

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mikenz66
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Re: Connection to Country

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 9:49 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful posts, Paul. I certainly agree that having local connections is important, and it's perhaps a lack of that sense of belonging that has lead to some of the crazy thinking that has lead to tragedies such as our local terrorist attack six months ago (and a number since that claim to be "inspired" by it!). I'm so proud that my country largely stood together ("they are us") and rejected the hateful rhetoric against minorities and/or recent arrivals. It was heartening to me how strongly the Māori, Pacifika, and Asian communities came out in support for the victims. I support tolerance and inclusiveness in our small but vibrant multicultural country. Not for the bland "Little England" vision the country had when I was a child.
SethRich wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:56 am
For the reasons specified above, I believe nationalism and patriotism are not the demons that globalists make them out to be.
I guess it depends what one means by "nationalism", "patriotism", and "globalist". Having a connection with place, and a pride in one's place, is different from having a feeling of superiority, and a quest for dominance, which is the dark side of nationalism and patriotism.

As for "globalist", does that mean multinational companies avoiding taxes and having their government apply pressure to other counties to have a "free market" (e.g. relinquish their right to, for example, collectively bargain with multinational drug companies to get a good price for our citizens --- the US tries to do that to my country from time to time...)? If so, I'm obviously against globalism, which in this form is simply a modern extension of colonisation.

Going back to climate change, I'm not sure exactly what point you are trying to make here:
SethRich wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:29 am
... Greenhouse gases cannot be seen, and climate modelling requires complex computations, which themselves are models and abstractions, aiming to forecast abstractions as best they can.
This is really no different from the many, many, highly technical things that we rely on. Designs for airplanes, nuclear power plants, GPS, optical communication, computer chips, and so on, rely on complex calculations, using models and abstractions, and, in the end, the risk analyses for things such as air travel are statistical (just like climate change).

However, the point that people should be urged to make a difference locally is important. And that's what many "hardcore environmentalists" that I know are trying to do. For example, run for elections with a position to improve transport options to reduce fuel use, protect waterways, and so on. I currently have a billboard featuring a couple of those on my fence...

:heart:
Mike

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SethRich
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Re: Connection to Country

Post by SethRich » Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:04 am

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 9:49 pm
As for "globalist", does that mean multinational companies avoiding taxes and having their government apply pressure to other counties to have a "free market" (e.g. relinquish their right to, for example, collectively bargain with multinational drug companies to get a good price for our citizens --- the US tries to do that to my country from time to time...)? If so, I'm obviously against globalism, which in this form is simply a modern extension of colonisation.
It's more about the mode of political governance and whether sovereignty is exerted by a nation, or whether it is surrendered to a supra-national entity like the EU, UN, or a hypothetical New World Order. Globalists, who seek global government, will attack factors which enable nations and the people of those nations to exert their own sovereignty. In recent times, this is done by deceptively conflating sovereignty with those things you describe here as "the dark side of nationalism and patriotism".

Anyway, globalism isn't really the topic here. (Neither is "globalisation", the economic view which DNS appears to actually be referring to.) I just wanted to highlight that something more local than a "global view" shouldn't be automatically denounced due to prejudice, or diminished on false and/or politically-motivated grounds. (Consider here the language and aspersions commonly used by "Remainers" to smear "Brexiteers" for wanting to regain national sovereignty.)

:candle:
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."

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