13 April 2011

Bolivia calls on Pachamama to enshrine Nature's rights in law

According to ancient Andean spirituality, the fertility goddess Pachamama is at the centre of all life. Pachamama has inspired the Bolivian government to pass legislation, entitled the Law of Mother Earth, which will grant all nature equal rights to humans. According to the Guardian, the laws "will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered."

The Law, strongly influenced by resurgent spiritual world views, is part of Bolivia's restructuring of its legal system following changes to the constitution in 2009. The government is expected to establish a ministry of mother earth and to appoint an ombudsman, as well as give local communities legal powers to monitor and control polluting industries. According to Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, "Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family. We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values." These may be indigenous values, but they are also good biology. Unfortunately, all too many of the modern world's science-informed business and political leaders fail to grasp the simple truth that "everything in the planet forms part of a big family."

I have little use for religion, whether it be the mumbo-jumbo of Andean spirituality or the mumbo-jumbo of Christian theology, but if Pachamama can help save us from the folly of wrecking our own environment, then good luck to Her and Her disciples.

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