Towards The Common Good: Partnership with the Earth and All Its People

Towards The Common Good: Partnership with the Earth and All Its People

In a perfect world, the resources that all the world's people and other-than-human species depend upon would be recognized to be what international policy advisor James Bernard Quilligan and others call a global commons. Included in the commons would be, for example: clean air and water; tolerable weather and a Life-supportive atmosphere; healthy oceans, soils and forests; the rights to issue money and determine its value according to needs and circumstances, to save seeds and use local land to raise food for local consumption; universal literacy and numeracy; access to health care, land, housing, information and the basic tools of communication.

"Common trusts," wrote Quilligan, "are institutions which preserve and manage resources inherited from past generations on behalf of present and future generations." Such trusts would be "the only fiduciary institutions accountable for the long-term preservation and sustenance of a common resource," putting private concerns out of the business of pillaging resources and thwarting ecological services that are necessary for the continuation of Life as we know it.

Ten Key Green Party (and Planetary) Values

1. Grassroots Democracy

Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives; no one should be subject to the will of another. Therefore we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representa­tives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations that expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision making process.

2. Ecological Wisdom

Human societies must operate with the under­standing that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We sup­port a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must have agricultural practices that replenish the soil; move to an energy efficient economy and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.

3. Social Justice and Equal Opportunity

All persons should have the right and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and heterosexism, ageism and disability which act to deny fair treatment and equal jus­tice under the law.

4. Nonviolence

It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the streets, to nations and the world. We will work to demilitarize our society and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naïve about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote nonviolent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.

Towards The Common Good: Partnership with the Earth and All Its People5. Decentralization

Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction and mili­tarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system that is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureau­cratic system. Decision making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

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6. Community Economics

We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and pro­vide a decent standard of living for all people while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. A successful economic system will offer meaningful work with dignity, while paying a living wage which reflects the real value of a person's work. Local communities must look to economic development that assures protection of the envi­ronment and workers' rights, broad citizen participation in planning and enhancement of our quality of life. We support independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible, as well as cooperatives and public enterprises that spread out resources and control to more people through democratic participation.

7. Gender Equality

We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control, with more coop­erative ways of interacting which respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interper­sonal responsibility and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the out­come we want.

8. Respect for Diversity

We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines. We believe the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms and the preservation of biodiversity.

9. Personal and Global Responsibility

We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well-being, and at the same time to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice and the health of the planet.

10. Future Focus and Sustainability

Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or “unmaking” all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on con­tinual expansion for survival. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions. Our overall goal is not merely to survive, but to share lives that are truly worth living. We believe the quality of our individual lives is enriched by the quality of all of our lives. We encourage everyone to see the dignity and intrinsic worth in all of life, and to take the time to understand and appreciate them­selves, their community and the magnificent beauty of this world.

©2012 by Ellen LaConte. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New Society Publishers.

This article was adapted with permission from Chapter 6 of the book:

Life Rules: Nature's Blueprint for Surviving Economic and Environmental Collapse
by Ellen LaConte.

Life Rules: Nature's Blueprint for Surviving Economic and Environmental Collapse by Ellen LaConteThis sobering yet essentially optimistic manifesto is required reading for anyone concerned about our ability to live within Earth's means. A powerful tool for community transition and cultural transformation, Life Rules offers a solution to our global challenges that is at once authentically hopeful, deeply inspiring, and profoundly liberating.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book.

About the Author

Ellen LaConte, author of: Life Rules -- Nature's Blueprint for Surviving Economic and Environmental CollapseEllen LaConte is acting director of the EarthWalk Alliance, a contributing editor to Green Horizon Magazine and The Ecozoic, a frequent talk show guest, and publisher of the Starting Point online newsletter. She has written two books about Helen and Scott Nearing, homesteaders and best-selling authors of Living the Good Life, and she is the author of the upcoming environmental novel Afton. After twenty three years homesteading in Mid-Coast Maine, she resides now in the Piedmont bioregion of North Carolina. Visit her website at

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