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We Need to Look for a New Cake

The Asia-Pacific meeting of the Alliance has ended. For the moment most of us are joyous about its outcome. We believe we have achieved a breakthrough in arriving at a tentative vision for the early part of 21st century. From the beginning we had maintained that the crisis today was to arrive at meaningful paradigms that can lead us from the ideological collapse we have witnessed in the past ten years. We believe that at this workshop we have the outline of such a set of visions.

The context for our search was one where we believe that globalisation was doing more harm than good, particularly regarding: the sense of powerlessness and displacement that millions of people are experiencing all over the world; large-scale poverty and human rights abuses making life intolerable for billions of people in the less industrialised countries and even in the industrialised ones.

Even water has become scarce

Ecologically, the situation is getting worse day by day. Even water has become a scarce commodity (per capita availability of water has gone down by 50% in the past twenty years and will go down by another 50% in another twenty years). Culturally, there is an invasion of values produced by the market which renders people more individualistic, aggressive, and competitive. Respect and compassion for other human beings has declined with this individualistic culture.

We are finding social transformation difficult not because we lack analyses, but because we do not have the visions that will motivate billions of us to persist in the long hard journey of social transformation. Everybody who came to the meeting was involved with significant social issues such as: child labour, gender, trade unions, ecology, farmers, water, indigenous peoples, untouchable social movements, religious renewal, anti-nuclear struggle, anti-dam struggles etc. Each sector had already many creative strategies and proposals to offer. But we were in search of a common basis of inspiration.

A marriage in spirituality of social and ecological struggles

The breakthrough concerning visions was as follows: We felt that we needed to wed the social struggles with ecological ones in an old-new perspective. The problem was not one of having a cake which the elite wanted to corner and appropriate on the one hand, and the oppressed peoples wanted to corner and appropriate on the other. The problem was that the cake itself was the wrong one. It was a cake which would destroy the earth ecologically and socially.

We needed to look for a new cake, very different from the one which consumer society was projecting before our eyes. This cake would be based on simple lifestyles and a lowering of consumption standards. It would be based on a deep and profound respect for Earth mother, from which we have all evolved. It would be a vision based on Inter-existence, Inter-being, Inter-connectedness and Inter-dependence. While we would respect and nurture the uniqueness of each person we would also believe that each of us is part of a larger web of life. What we do to others and to the earth we do to ourselves.

We felt that such an eco-social-spiritual vision was crucial for the political struggle that lay ahead.

We came up with several key challenges that had to be tackled urgently. Likewise we also came up with strategies that had to be used. But we will submit all this in our larger report which will be ready in a few weeks time.

-- Summary Conclusions of the Continental Meeting in Asia -- by Siddhartha
- From Fireflies Ashram, near Bangalore, India, Asia, June 24,2001
- Asian Continental Meeting


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