Ecofeminism, Technology and Earth Healing
Guest Blog written by Theresa A. Yugar.
In 1970, Earth-day was celebrated for the first time on a global level. It followed a historic moment in human history where earthly citizens were exposed to and astounded by Earth’s beauty from afar, as a result of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon, July 20, 1969. The visionary behind this movement was John Mc Connelly, a peace activist, scientist and person of faith.
Parallel to this movement, Lynn White’s thought provoking article, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” dating to 1967, continues to be relevant as the human species struggle to overcome ideologies of domination in Jewish Christian and Greek philosophical thought that has resulted not only in dualistic thinking between human and nonhuman nature but also in the de-sentization of human beings to the natural world. Further, in this article, White critiques the intersection of modernity, science and technology as root causes of, “exploitative attitudes,” and, a mechanized worldview between all living sentinel beings. In response, theologians and persons of good will across disciplines including ecofeminist theologians Ivone Gebara, Sally McFague, Rosemary Radford Ruether; psychologist, biologist, Rachel Carson; psychologist, Albert Bandura; scientist, Vandana Shiva; historian, Carolyn Merchant; politician, Al Gore; Christian religious educators, Thomas Groome, Linda Vogel, and Parker J. Palmer and Christian ethicists Heather Eaton and Lois Ann Lorenzo, have taken White’s critique of Christianity’s complicit stance to heart with regards to an earth healing ethic in light of rampant environmental degradation in our times.
Forty years later, modernity, science and technology continue to foster a worldview that mechanizes both people and the earth. In our global world, technology has transformed the ways that “cosmic citizens” [Gebara] relate to their neighbor and the earth. On the one hand, technology in its many manifestations from the Internet, the android telephone, Ipad and tweeting has opened up doors to the positive potential of interconnectedness in a global world. On the other hand, I argue it has further de-sensitized humanity’s relationship not only to the earth, but also, more importantly to our kin, the human species. Every evening on the news I see the negative affects of technology in the form of bombs, threats of nuclear annihilation of our species, wars and a general distrust and hatred of our neighbors resulting in global violence.
In our times, I think the challenge for ecofeminists is the work of translating earth centered principles that value the interrelatedness and sacrality of all life forms in light of a highly techno-centric world that has resulted in the mechanization of relationships, so much so, that life itself, for many, has little value. To date, I wonder if the pros of technology outweigh the mechanistic principles that underlie such a worldview that values progress over relationality, diversity, unity, difference, creativity and the interconnectedness of all life forms, from the oceanic, vegetative to human species, as Gebara, so eloquently advocates. In our times, technology has transformed relationships into mechanical moments where individuals connect. It is no longer necessary to engage a person in a one-to-one relationship. In fact, for many, it is more convenient and timely to engage individuals through a technological medium.
I argue there is a parallel between individuals being disconnected to the earth and now to each other because of technology. In this context, I see the need for ecofeminists, Christian and non-Christian, to translate ecofeminist principles to real narratives in our world today. In the past, the scripts that ecofeminist theologians such as Radford Ruether have reclaimed as liberatory were scripturally based. Today, I see the need for a new script of earth healing in the mutilated nameless bodies of individuals across our globe. To date, ecofeminists have the paradigms and principles necessary to critique and reinvent new ways of knowing with regards to humanity’s relationships to all living species.
In a twenty first century context I invite ecofeminists, and caretakers of the earth, to seriously reflect on the ethical implications of technology and modernization in a millennial world that continues a legacy of androcentric and anthropocentric ideologies that undermine an ecofeminist ethic of earth-healing. Now more than ever the earth is crying out for an ecofeminist response of earth healing if we would only take the time to listen to Her. But, to fully listen to Her, we must let go of the gadgets that take us away from the real work of earth healing. In this context, what does an ecofeminist approach offer the world at this time?
For me, it a sense of groundedness amidst the shifting atoms that make up our wholly beautiful and complex universe made of billions upon billions of galaxies that share a similar DNA make-up to myself. Further, I see our role of ecofeminists and caretakers of the earth to hold Her in her current broken and wounded state, while at the same time, drawing on her creative energy to inspire us in the continued need and work of reclaiming justice not only for Her but for all of God’s creatures as well.
For those of you interested in learning more about Earth Day Movements I suggest the following sites to begin your work: 350.org, Oceana.org, www.earthday.org [Earth Day Network], EarthJustice.org, www.nrdc.org [Natural Resources Defense Council] and www.foodandwaterwatch.org [Food & Water].
Theresa A. Yugar is a constructive Latina feminist liberation theologian. She is a graduate of Claremont Graduate University in the Women’s Studies in Religion program. Her scholarship and activist work centers on gender and ecological justice. She is a Christian Religious educator and active member of the Women’s Ordination Conference, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, Women Church, local and national, and most recently the Roman Catholic Womenpriest Movement.