At the core of our values is to honor, and live in awe of and in harmony with, Nature. But it is not enough to honor and worship, we must be warriors in the struggle to defend Nature. We must live courageously.
Traditionally Druids did not sequester themselves from the secular world. They were advisors, policy makers, diplomats and jurists, and sometimes warriors. As the most learned caste in Celtic society, they played a vital and active role in the politics of the day.
As modern Druids we have crucial role to play because of our understanding to the interrelationships of life on our planet. Remaining passive is insupportable. The Druid’s calling is to live courageously. Members of our community have taken the lead on environment issues:
Being of Service as a Druid in the Changing Climate and Changing Communities
Living authentically with nature for me goes beyond time spent in meditation and ritual. I am looking for a path that allows me to walk on this earth without doing harm to nature. Like so many others that share our chosen spiritual home among the trees, I recycle and try not to pollute or even buy anything new unless unavoidable. Living “sustainably” sounds deceptive, as if we make a few adjustments we can sustain the same lifestyle westerners have come to expect. Like so many activists, I find these small adjustments unsatisfying because all around me the ecology is still spinning out of control.
For most of us in modern western society, our time is divided not only between the sacred and the secular, but between what is our time and what belongs to our employer. Over half of our waking hours are controlled by our employer, especially when you include the commute time to work. Not only are we not living in reverence to nature during this time, we are more often than not engaged in an activity which is destructive to Mother Earth.
We have to acknowledge ourselves are part of nature and part of the planet and work to better our circumstances in relation to the natural world, and each other. If we spend more than half our waking hours engaged in an activity which is detrimental to our own well-being and destructive of the environment, and then come home and sit in front of an altar, take a nature walk, and sign a few petitions, we are not living authentically.
The investor-driven corporate business model has been responsible for worldwide environmental destruction and dehumanization of work. As difficult as it is to say out loud, while we work for them we are contributing to the destruction of the environment that we hold so dear -- we are killing our own spirit and that same spirit that we worship at our altar. The economic activity that provides our food and clothing, our work, needs to be in harmony with nature. For a small minority of our community, this commitment has become a reality and I congratulate you. But for the millions more who toil in the disjunctive structure of corporate employment, I want to offer a solution: Worker cooperatives.
We have to feed ourselves and provide a reasonable lifestyle for our families. We know that if we stopped working for the corporations, they would simply replace us. It’s a game of “chicken”: hold on no matter what until the other person swerves, and you win. No reasonable person leaves a good job until a better economic opportunity presents itself. By the year 2050, our world will be thrown into economic and social collapse and we are living in a dream going to work every day as if it is never going to happen. Yet we do know it is going to happen. So we keep living the nightmare: we are on board a train speeding toward a cliff at an ever accelerating rate assuming the bridge will be built by the time we get there.
Investor Driven Corporations externalizes costs of doing business as much as possible. They relocate to whichever municipality is offering subsidies. If they need a road built to their location, they ask the city to build it. It they pollute a river, they want the clean-up paid for on the public budget. Corporations consume workers in the same way they consume natural resources, constantly pushing down the price of labor by externalizing costs and subcontracting, creating temporary and part-time employment, cutting benefits, pensions and healthcare, expecting social services such as emergency rooms to fill the gap. They do this to create ever greater profits. These profits are used to pay exorbitant CEO salaries and are sent to the external investors, neither of which live in the local community. After several centuries we are inured to the boom-and-bust cycle and assume there is no other way to do business.
Investor-driven globalized corporation act as a pump to drain wealth out of the local communities and send it elsewhere. We see evidence of this dynamic in shortfalls in public budgets at all levels, the closed businesses and boarded up homes in our communities. There are other way to do business which is less destructive of us, our communities and the environment. We know we need to take back control of our economy, our food chain, our livelihoods and our communities. We need to build not just sustainable communities, but self-sufficient communities based on local economies.
How do we untether ourselves from the beast while still providing for ourselves and our families? We need to take the agency for job creation back from predatory capitalists whose rapacious greed has impoverished nations, plundered our resources and polluted the planet. Our first task is to change the structure of the workplace so that we have the power of self-determination in all our waking hours. We need create jobs with dignity and democracy as worker cooperatives where the workers own the business, including the means of production, share the profits, and make decisions democratically. A worker cooperative is a small business which is owned and operated by the people that work there and no one else. Worker cooperatives live and work in the local community. Worker cooperatives are the game changer we need to take back control of our economy for the 99%.
Worker Cooperatives pay taxes into the local tax pool. They buy products and services for their businesses locally and spend their paychecks locally, helping other small businesses. Because they source their resources locally and sell locally, transportation related pollution is reduced. They buy a home and improve it, enhancing their neighborhoods. They coach their children's soccer team or volunteer in their local community. Worker cooperatives are better stewards of the local environment because their families live locally. Most worker cooperatives are green businesses.
Regions of the world where there already are a preponderance of worker cooperative business in the economies, such a Mondragon in northern Spain and Emilia Romagna in Italy, weathered recent economic downturns far better because wealth is retained and circulated in the local communities. These local economies did better because a worker cooperative model is a better way to do business. But beyond just doing business, worker cooperatives provide a better way of life for ourselves and the planet. We will not be able to change environmental policy until we take back ownership of our economy.
This is appropriate to present to the Druid Community because a Druid is a leadership role more than a belief system. The social functions of Druids include artist, mystic, scholar, healers, advisers, magicians, poets, seers, leaders, teachers, historians, jurists, shaman or priest, and most importantly truth seekers. In the world to come we will need multi-purpose leaders in our local sustainable and self-sufficient communities that can face the truth of climate change in all of its spiritual as well as economic implications. As Druids we need to step up to the leadership roles, advising and strategizing, in this economic war we find ourselves in, and then provide the spiritual guidance and wisdom we will all need to survive.
Looking Back on the Limits of Growth Forty years after the release of the groundbreaking study, were the concerns about overpopulation and the environment correct? Recent research supports the conclusions of a controversial environmental study released 40 years ago: The world is on track for disaster. So says Australian physicist Graham Turner, who revisited perhaps the most groundbreaking academic work of the 1970s, The Limits to Growth.
Written by MIT researchers for an international think tank, the Club of Rome, the study used computers to model several possible future scenarios. The business-as-usual scenario estimated that if human beings continued to consume more than nature was capable of providing, global economic collapse and precipitous population decline could occur by 2030. However, the study also noted that unlimited economic growth was possible, if governments forged policies and invested in technologies to regulate the expansion of humanity’s ecological footprint. Prominent economists disagreed with the report’s methodology and conclusions. Yale’s Henry Wallich opposed active intervention, declaring that limiting economic growth too soon would be “consigning billions to permanent poverty .” Turner compared real-world data from 1970 to 2000 with the business-as-usual scenario. He found the predictions nearly matched the facts. “There is a very clear warning bell being rung here,” he says. “We are not on a sustainable trajectory .”
The researchers, led by scientist Dennis Meadows, warned that if current trends in population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion continued, that dark time—marked by a plummeting population, a contracting economy and environmental collapse—would come within 100 years. In four decades.
The Limits to Growth has sold over ten million copies in more than 30 languages. The book is part of the canon of great environmental literature of the 20th century . Yet, the public has done little to avert the disaster it foretells. Australian physicist Graham Turner shows how actual data from 1970 to 2000 almost exactly matches predictions set forth in the “business-as-usual” scenario presented in The Limits to Growth. To mark the report’s 40th anniversary , experts gathered in Washington, D.C. on March 1 . Meadows and Jorgen Randers, two authors of The Limits to Growth, and other speakers discussed the challenges of forging ahead into a sustainable future at “Perspectives on Limits to Growth: Challenges to Building a Sustainable Planet,” a symposium hosted by the Smithsonian Institution and the Club of Rome, the global think tank that sponsored the original report. Meadows, who retired in 2004 after 35 years as a professor at MIT, Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire, discussed the report and why he feels it is too late for sustainable development and it is now time for resilience. From 1970 to 1972, he and 15 others worked feverishly on The Limits to Growth.
Jay Forrester, a senior professor at MIT, had created a theoretical model that showed the interrelationship of some key global growth factors: population, resources, persistent pollution, food production and industrial activity. Our goal was to gather empirical data to test his model and elaborate on it. We wanted to understand the causes and consequences of physical growth on the planet over a 200-year time period, from 1900 up to 2100. According to the “standard run” or “business-as-usual” scenario, you predicted that we would overshoot the planet’s carrying capacity and collapse by mid-21st century.