How we treat non-human animals is a reflection of our personal and collective ethos; one often mired in a subconscious belief that humans have a monopoly on sentience and therefore value. Our film sets are no exception.
Women are the extended hand of the Universe
Culture is a human-made idea, often a man-made idea. And it’s just that: an idea. An imaginary construct enough people have chosen to believe to make it real. It can change at any time and it should. Culture is the external companion of our collective psychological, emotional, and spiritual evolutionary process. Acts of violence, cruelty, and barbarism held with indifference or as sacred and reverent in the name of ‘culture’ are external symptoms of a willfully ignorant ego.
You can’t grow deep roots in shallow pools. We’re plagued with shallow pools: shiny objects, quick fixes, culturally appropriated tokens, traditions, symbols, ceremony. Capitalist ‘spirituality.’ The sacred hacked up, commodified and served with a side of overpriced, environment-destroying, water-poisoning, climate change accelerating, sweat-shop made stretchy pants we label ‘yoga’ like Yoga has anything to do with it.
Rape is a four letter word. It happened to me. Based on statistics, it’s highly likely it happened to you or someone you know. It happens to us. Rape is a four letter word. It represents hate, violence, oppression, entitlement, victimisation. I have a hard time saying this four letter word. Do you? It’s only four letters but it weighs so much. But I won’t let it suffocate me, crush me, or define me. Neither should you. Silencing survivors is a deliberate – subconscious or conscious is irrelevant – knee-jerk reaction to maintaining status quo. It makes survivors victims. It makes us carry the burden. Talk about it, if you want. Don’t talk about it, if you want. Either way it’s never your shame or burden to carry. Rape is a four letter word. It happened to me. It maybe happened to you.
The duty and responsibility of fostering loving kindness and spreading peace is on all of us. And as such, everyone is to be held to account. Everyone irrespective of one’s social status, profession, ethnicity, nationality or economic station, has a duty to humanity. And this brings me to Hollywood, a self-identifying liberal universe.
It’s important to have perspective but that should never be used as a form of cruelty against yourself. It shouldn’t be a weapon to suppress your own challenges and deny yourself of compassion and self-care. Everything about you is important.
The audacity to assume peace can be negotiated without half the world’s population present.
There are a great many leaders – religious leaders, non-profit leaders, political leaders, community leaders – that have the audacity to assume they can negotiate peace without half the world’s population present. Women need to be present in an equitable role. Not a special guest speaker, a witness, an assistant or consultant but present, equally, at the table. Represented and heard and believed – not tolerated, not placated, not entertained for the sake of appearances or quotas – but accepted and understood with merit and respect.
Then comes action. The action is the proof as to whether you really heard us after all.
People in the so-called Global South don’t have enough to eat not because they don’t know how to grow their own food or manage their own livelihoods. It’s because we plunder their resources with nary a thought of accountability.1
The issue is not them. It is us.
We have an extremely disproportionate distribution of wealth and resources that we in the so-called North – or West – have created. We cut our fellow global citizens off at the knees and then say, “Oh poor you. Let us save you!” We shall save you with the passionate fervour of our good intentions, our missionaries, our ill-conceived grassroots NGOs2 and apps from Silicon Valley, and our giant foundations funded by the very same corporations that hinder your access to clean water, seed sovereignty and your land through predatory ecomonies.3 Our savior hearts destroy your autonomy, your dignity, your sense of worth.
We just want to help.
It’s good to want to help. We should all want to help each other. But, at present, we are not willing to really look in the mirror and think critically about our actions. We lack self-reflection. This makes our help ineffective at best and, more commonly, harmful.
We have the audacity to believe we know what’s best. But don’t we know what’s best? This conditioning is a core foundation of our Western culture. Never mind our excessive consumption, our huge contributions to climate change, our consumer demands for cheap products and cheap food; rendering your lives and the environment as cheap, dispensable and exploitable. But we still insist we want to help. We know what’s best.
This willful combination of arrogance and ignorance is dangerous, lacking in true humanity and has contributed to the ongoing destruction and devastation of the entire planet and its inhabitants. It’s self-deluded insanity, totally perverse. The only way to change is to first admit you have a problem. Fellow Westerners – we have a problem.
1 On the topic of wars and conflict as a leading cause of food insecurity, where it isn’t obvious a western nation state is involved (for example Iraq and Afghanistan), look deep behind the curtain and ask the following: how did they start? What is the root of the conflict – lack of resources, ethnic cleansing? Where did those rebels get their funding, their weapons, and even sometimes their training? Not infrequently can we find a connection back to western actors..
2 I believe that local NGOs can be the greatest instigators of change and if we, as foreign entities, wish to help in their communities, should take our lead from them and with full consent and participation of the community.
3 This is not to say I do not believe in humanitarian efforts. I believe the current model is deeply flawed and has largely gone unchecked. I believe there are excellent NGOs – like MSF and PCRF – and, conversely, organizations, companies and individuals who do terrible work. However, until we address the foundations of the industry at large, we will never see change that is to the highest good of the beneficiaries (clients)
Seed Sovereignty, Food Security (hard copy | digital)
Who Really Feeds the World?: The Failures of Agribusiness and the Promise of Agroecology (hard copy | digital)
The Betrayal of Africa (hard copy | digital)
Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (hard copy | digital)
The Big Truck That Went By: How The World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (hard copy | digital)
The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (hard copy | digital)
The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa (hard copy | digital)
Making Peace With the Earth (hard copy | digital)
Colonialism in 10 Minutes: The Scramble For Africa
African people don’t want your T-shirts and other mythbusters
Aid for Africa? No Thanks
A Day Without Dignity
Aid versus trade
Entrepreneurs Can Cure Poverty
Africa Post-Colonial Development
The danger of a single story
The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, it is the crisis of patriarchal masculinity. Until we make this distinction clear, men will continue to fear that any critique of patriarchy represents a threat. – Bell Hooks
If the world’s major political powers and corporate powers suddenly became a hard majority – if not entirely – female, a sufficient amount of men would decry this as absurd, unfair, excessive, dominating. And it would be. Yet this is exactly what women live with on a daily basis the world over and are told it’s normal and we should, in effect, stop making such a fuss.
If any human being is to reach full maturity both the masculine and feminine sides of the personality must be brought up into consciousness. – M. Esther Harding
The effects of this grotesque imbalance are innumerable: patriarchy and its version of masculinity are oppressive, fear-mongering, degrading, unsustainable, and down-right dangerous; destructive to men and women alike and devastating for the health of the planet and hampers any possibility for sustainable equitable access and distribution of resources.
We’ve been conditioned to believe this imbalance is normal. None of this is normal.
Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development (print | digital)
International Law and New Wars (print | digital)
We Should All Be Feminists (print | digital)
Gender and Climate Change: Impacts, Science, Policy (print | digital)
Women Waging War and Peace (print)
The Green Collar Economy (print | digital)
Making Peace With the Earth: Beyond Resource Land and Food Wars (print | digital)
Ecofeminism (Critique, Influence, Change series) (print | digital)