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In Honor of Earth Day

Don’t have a FOMO panic attack if you missed the new Holiday this past Sunday.  There were only a few of us who celebrated it.  That’s because only a few of us knew about it.  Next year on  April 18,  2021 there will be more.

What’s the Holiday? Going forward,  the Sunday before Earth Day,  is going to be Repeal Human Dominion Sunday. 

Meaning that we take steps toward an orderly retreat from the idea that humans have been bestowed with dominion over all other life forms instead of just being one of them.

Of course not all humans think that homo sapiens are separate from other life forms or put on earth to dominate them.

But the Christian idea of human “dominion” over all life forms from Genesis I is,  pardon the expression,  the genesis of a lot of bad thinking and behavior.  And it is deeply embedded in Euro-American thinking.

Those of you who remember your Sunday school classes can skip this part.  But just in case,  here’s a refresher.  This one is from Bible Gateway Genesis 1.  :

“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (emphasis added)

A more traditional version from one of many translations of the King James Bible is:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  (emphasis added)

You get the idea.

Last week,  several things got me riled up about this. One “case study” will suffice.  A friend sent me a TED Talk.  It was titled Donut Economics.

So,  I started to watch it.  It was sailing along as TED talks are wont to do.  (Yet another reminder of my Tewa Native friend Kathy Sanchez’s observation that Euro-Americans like to explain things.  And then explain them some more.  Without which there wouldn’t even be TED talks.)

At about 8 ½ minutes in,  the very earnest and very well-meaning presenter,  Kathy Raworth,  whose talk was about rebutting mainstream economic thought,  said  “We can’t meet our human rights without using the planet’s resources.”

Tilt.  Genesis updated for the 21st Century?  Welllll, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck….?

Said one anguished wolf to the other,  “Why don’t the farmers understand?  We can’t meet our wolf rights without eating their chickens.”

Is there any living thing on earth,  a tree,  a tiger,  a coral reef,  a pristine lake that is better off as a result of the ascendance of homo sapiens?  I don’t think so.  (I am aware of the case for dogs.  Complicated question for another time.)

The greatest threat to any living human is another human.  Not a Wuhan market bat.

Humans do need the planet.  The planet does not need humans.  Humans will not avoid human extinction,  or for that matter significantly improve human-to-human behavior unless we reimagine and rework our relationship with all the other living things.

So,  a belated Happy first-ever Repeal Human Dominion Sunday:  April 19,  2020.  A day of Peaces and Loves,  for elephants and for each other.

 

 

Frank Joyce is a lifelong Detroit based activist and writer. He is a former Communications Director of the UAW. He and Karin Aguilar-San Juan co-edited, The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Anti-War Movement.  

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