Voodoo is a real religion that many mistakenly regard as mere sorcery. We have been present at Voodoo rituals in Haiti. We were once invited to attend, as “special” guests, a propitiatory ceremony for the harvest season. In a quiet moment, we asked the celebrant the reason behind the dance – strange to our eyes – that he was performing in front of a small saucepan on the stove. “It’s not a dance”, he replied. “It’s steps, and by counting them I calculate the time needed for the oil to boil”. Nothing could be more rational.
On another occasion, in Thailand, our attention was caught by a humming noise coming from a Pagoda, so we moved closer to one of the open doors so we could hear and understand. Inside, Buddhist monks were chanting and praying. Our ears could only hear “ohmmm” but our whole bodies – especially the skin – were suffused with the vibrations. We had a similar experience in a remote Tuscan monastery when Fransiscan friars were singing Gregorian chant.
In Algeria, during Ramadan, we were talking to Muslim friends about the Muezzin who sang early in the morning and then 5 more times during the day. They pointed out gently that the Muezzin in his minaret high above the mosque was not singing but praying.
Again: have you ever looked at Chinese paintings produced between 1600 – 1900? And if so, could you detect the Empty / Full dimension in which the artist reaches the highest point of expression, where their work is comparable to that of the Creator? It’s hard to understand. The images that relate to Yin / Yang or to Mountain / Water, with their poems in Chinese script, are symbolic and can really be understood only by those of Chinese culture.
Speaking to EU agriculture ministers, the European Commissioner for food security Stella Kyriakides informed her audience that “it has not yet been decided” when the proposed directive for a 50% reduction in pesticide use will be presented. This means the Green Deal plan to halve pesticide use by 2030 is being effectively put on ice. Naturally this is justified by talk of the war in Ukraine and geopolitical instability.
There is unanimous agreement that “pesticides are harmful to health and the environment” and that we should strive increasingly to decontaminate the land and water systems. Logic would suggest that we can’t “postpone” the elimination of something that does harm, imperilling the hopes of the younger generations for the future.
So what would a “voice in the wilderness” like our own say about this?
“The war in Ukraine has brought home to us contradictions we have never wanted to see before. The Covid19 pandemic should have taught us that the globalized world consumes more than nature can protect or replenish. This means that we must come up with new policies that release us from the chains with which unrestrained global liberalization has bound us. Instead, just as for energy – in which we see coal and nuclear power returning to the equation – so for farming, there is a return to chemicals and intensive production. Once again all the (feeble) attempts that should, in theory at least, have allowed us to achieve a green transition are being called into question. In other words, instead of looking ahead we are continuing to look backwards.
The citizens’ Conference on the Future of Europe is attracting almost no attention. Launched in March 2021 jointly by the Parliament, Council and Commission, its aim is to allow citizens to discuss freely the challenges and priorities of Europe. The result of the Conference should enable the three EU institutions to draw up a list of priorities for future policies.
The conference was structured into four thematic panels, each consisting of 200 randomly selected citizens from all 27 EU Member States and matching gender, urban/rural context, age, socio-economic background and education level. One third of each panel consists of young people aged between 16 and 25. The working documents are available in all EU languages.
In June 2022, for the third year in a row, people all over the world are coming together to explore the power of localization, and to honour the many efforts and initiatives – old and new – that foster ecological economies, thriving communities and healthy local food systems. Further details and info:
You may have seen in the media accounts of the European journey of the Indian guru Vasudev Sadhguru, undertaken with the aim of saving the soil. His motorbike journey began in Birmingham on 19 March and the European part will end in Bucharest, but will continue from there as far as India. He spoke in many European cities, where he was welcomed by public figures, parliamentarians, politicians and supporters. In Italy he was welcomed in Rome and Venice. Everywhere his message was the same: we must save the soil.
Vasudev Sadhguru is an Indian yoga guru and proponent of spirituality. He has been teaching yoga in southern India since 1982. He is the author of several books and a frequent speaker at international forums. In 2017, he received the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award, for his contributions to social welfare. He also set up the Conscious Planet movement whose main aim is to save the soil.
Why did he undertake this journey? “Creating a conscious planet is only possible by raising human consciousness. It is important for everyone to be aware and inclusive, especially for leaders whose decisions impact millions of lives.”
We hope that his message will be widely listened to and shared. Pragmatists that we are, we were attracted above all by the structure and organization supporting this journey. Not just posters with the key message “Save the soil” displayed in cities along the way, but a highly effective website on the soil with educational videos, some performed by professional actors: videos of interviews with scientists and soil researchers, world leaders, cultural figures, business people as well as social and political leaders. And a single simple message encouraging action based on three elements: i) learn about the crisis of the soil in order to be able to talk about it; ii) share to help the world understand how important soil is; iii) be a friend of the earth. The website contains everything needed to tackle the subject of the soil, including music, songs and dance. We therefore have the opportunity to sign up optimistically to the “Global Movement to Save Soil”.
We have been asked to return to the idea of “farmers as soldiers” presented in the March article “Carbon farming priority issue for the EU”
We have been asked to outline the European political proposal beyond the positions of the French Minister and the Commissioner for Agriculture. As we mentioned, in December 2021 European Commission presented “Sustainable Carbon Cycles” in the form of a Communication to the Parliament and Council (which is informative not deliberative in character), which includes the design principles in support of a carbon farming scheme.
Some attentive readers have alerted us to an analysis of this communication – produced by IDDRI, I4CE and IFOAM. These organisations identify the conditions for turning this specific measure into reality. They indicate the key design principles for a “CFS” that would simultaneously support climate mitigation and the other objectives set by the Farm2Fork and Biodiversity strategies. However, they recommend using the following criteria: “an absolute reduction in all GHG emissions; enhance carbon sequestration in soils and agroecological infra-structures; foster the diversification of agroecosystems from plot to landscapes; and reduce the overall dependency of farming systems to external and synthetic inputs.”
Furthermore, “funds dedicated to a CFS should primarily be directed to support systemic and sustainable transitions of farming systems on the basis of a clear and multidimensional evaluation/certification framework. In that respect, this framework should be deployed in a “taxonomic” way, i.e. to help public and private investors to identify the right projects to support.“