THE BLOG
03/18/2015 10:17 am ET Updated May 17, 2015

A New World Needs a New Paradigm

I'm tired of hearing activists say they aren't getting involved in the climate change movement because they're too busy with Black Lives Matter or immigration or reproductive justice, or whatever. And I'm tired of hearing climate change activists telling them that without air or water, nothing else matters, that this is the most important issue on the planet. Then there's the penis-measuring contest to decide which injustice is more important and we all go home annoyed.

There's a key element in this conversation that's missing: These issues are all the same. There's one issue, or more specifically, one paradigm and that paradigm is killing us- humans and planet alike.

We are suffering under a paradigm of hierarchy, a vision of the world that tells us that the dominant class is on top and everything else is in service to it. On top we'll find white, straight, wealthy, American men. Earth is on the bottom. Our planet is used for supply and sewage. We take what we want and dump our waste when we're done. Earth has no right to life; she is of value only insofar as she is of service to us. Of greater value, possibly, than our oceans and rainforests but certainly below the dominant class we'll find people of color, immigrants, people who are poor, transgender, differently abled...you know the list. We all do, and it's long. The system is designed to benefit the dominant class and the rest of the world is expendable. The comfort and convenience of a small group has top priority; the rest of us are here to serve or should get out of the way.

The planet is dying. Black men are imprisoned en masse or being shot down in our streets. Children are in detention centers waiting to be deported while sick people fight insurance companies to get the care they need and families live on the streets or in temporary shelters. But, multi-national corporations can dump tons of carbon into our atmosphere and saturate our land with toxic chemicals without consequence. Shareholders are valued. Profit maintains the status of the dominant class allowing some to live in comfort. Everyone else is expendable.

A Beloved Community paradigm is what we need, a paradigm that topples the hierarchy and recognizes our radical interconnectedness, a paradigm that doesn't advantage any one group but life as a whole. In the new paradigm, all life is precious. We sacrifice some convenience for long-term sustainability. We would no more imprison black or brown children as white children or pay a woman less than a man or accept slave labor conditions for workers so the cost of our carrots will remain low.

It's time to stop dividing ourselves, telling each other that one issue is more important than another or that some justice issues have to be sacrificed that others might thrive. Earth is one body. We are all part of a single system. We shouldn't be asking each other what issue we're fighting but if we're dismantling the system that divides us. Are we in a common struggle to topple the narrative that tells us some people and species are expendable? Are we working to live into a new paradigm of wild, radical interconnectedness?

The fight for justice is the fight for life in every form. It's time to rewrite the narrative. One planet. One fight. And we're all in it together.