Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 18, No. 8, August 2022
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Dynamics of Gender, Growth, and Degrowth

Gender shapes the world. Familes are the primary agents of social and ecological dynamics. Patriarchal families are no longer functional in a crowded and polluted world. Population dynamics drive trophic dynamics and cycles of growth and degrowth.
Responsible parenthood is crucial for the sustained viability of human civilization.
Image by Sandy Millar, Unplash. Click the image to enlarge.





Spirituality and the Defense of the Earth
Victor M. Toledo

Ecological Justice Border Crossings ~ Part 5 ~ Shifting from Industry-Funded Science to Cultural Biomimicry
Cara Judea Alhadeff

Humanity in the Patchwork of Life
Julia Steinberger

Characteristics of an Unhealthy Culture
Dave Pollard

On the Existence of A Man
Eliza Daley

Get Ready for the Forever Plague
Andrew Nikiforuk

UN Sustainable Development Goals Failing to Have Meaningful Impact
Frank Biermann

Best and Worst Countries by Different Environmental Indicators
Corey JA Bradshaw

Why a Shrinking Human Population Is a Good Thing
Corey JA Bradshaw

Empirical Limits to Growth: A Social and Environmental Index to Replace GDP
Stanislas Rigal

How Steady-State Principles Transcend Economics
Sydney Lyman

The Critical Theory of Pope Francis ~ Part II: Laudato Si, The Gospel of Creation
Michael Welton

The Great Acceleration and Time Under Capitalism
Victor M. Toledo

Why Raising Interest Rates to Reduce Inflation May Work Out Very Badly
Gail Tverberg

A Perspective on Climate Change from Earth's Energy Imbalance
Kevin E Trenberth & Lijing Cheng

Achieving Self-Funding Local Sovereignty As Global Food Systems Collapse
Ellen Brown

We Are The Economy
Amanda Janoo

Do We Live in the Same World? Some Reflections on Polarization
Susannah Crockford

Acceleration Forever? The Increasing Momentum of Mineral Extraction
Kurt Cobb

Anthropogenic Man: A Documentary on the Human Predicament
Ivan Idso

Deadly Optimism, Useful Pessimism
Richard Heinberg

A World Without Soil: A Look at the Precarious Future of Our Planet's Vital Ribbon
Mihai Andrei

Soil Isn't Forever: Why Biodiversity Also Needs Protection Below the Ground
Tara Lohan

From Homo economicus to Homo ecologicus ~ Sequel 8 ~ Gender Dynamics
Luis T. Gutiérrez

Spirituality and the Defense of the Earth

Victor M. Toledo

This article was originally published by
Voices for Mother Earth, 20 June 2022


There is a certain agreement that every human being combines four dimensions:

the mental, the emotional, the bodily or physical, and the spiritual.
The mental dimension has to do with reasoning, while the emotional with the sentimental. Both dimensions mark reason and passion, thought and feeling, giving rise, in general terms, to science and art. These two dimensions find their material base in the brain, which is, in turn, part of the body. The spiritual dimension is the most difficult to define and even to accept. However, even though it seems to be the most elusive or ethereal, the spiritual dimension can be defined as we will see.

One of the most remarkable features of the modern world has been its inability to recognize these four qualities. This inability produces a coercion leading to crippled personalities and split beings. In a world where individualism, competition, the rational, the specialized and the material prevail, homo industrialis ends up being an exclusively rationalist being who seeks to suppress or eliminate all feeling (she no longer feels, he only thinks he feels) — someone who, naturally, denies the existence of the spirit. This deformation creates the individual or existential crisis blocking the life of people capable of resolving structural or collective crises, which are both environmental and social.

Spirituality in a human being appears as a result of confronting, not fleeing from, the world. It emerges from an awareness arising from a deep, introspective and intimate reflection on uncertainty, the non-sense of existence, the incommensurability of the universe, etc., which leads to humble acceptance of the indecipherable existence of a mystery and to recognition of an abstract and superior entity. It is the response of being in front of the abyss. This intuitive perception wells up from the idea of the existence of mysterious connections between all parts of the universe or nature that make up a cosmic unit directed by an intelligent force.

Wisdom is linked to meditation and ultimately, to spirituality. The indissoluble relationship between wisdom and spirituality also allows us to identify an essential trait in spiritual beings:
that of the limits of being.
The human being not only declares himself powerless, imperfect, limited and finite, he also recognizes his own mistakes and those of his peers, distinguishes between good and evil (has ethics), and acquires or affirms a very valuable attribute:
compassion, which is the ability to forgive and be forgiven.
Spirituality is not synonymous with religiosity. Although every human being is spiritual to some degree, not everyone is religious. Seen in historical perspective, spirituality preceded religiosity and remained a fundamentally individual act. The religious appears when the spiritual becomes collective, institutional and practical, and when all kinds of sacred beings come alive and end up becoming human figures.

The conversion of spirituality means the transformation of naturism, that is, of a pantheon formed by numerous elements of nature without hierarchies (polytheism), into a belief where the divinities are only human. Polytheism moves on to monotheism with increasingly powerful male gods. After 2,000 years of expansion, the three major religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) encompass almost half of humanity. Today´s religions are social, cultural and political institutions with power relations, which in most cases have become oppressive structures.

Today, those who truly defend the planet, life, and therefore human dignity, are spiritual beings. Those who demand environmental and social justice in all the countries of the world believe in the existence of Mother Earth, a belief inherited, paradoxically, from the indigenous peoples. It was David Choquehuanca, current vice president of Bolivia, who in 2010 organized and convened in Cochabamba the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. The response was impressive, with 35,000 people in attendance and over a thousand delegates from 100 countries. 

This crucial event was preceded by the promulgation of the Constitutions of Ecuador (2008) and Bolivia (2010) that integrated the rights of Mother Earth, abandoning the dominant anthropocentric paradigm and imagining a new society. It is one thing to proclaim the recovery of ecosystem equilibrium and quite another to assume the defense of Mother Nature. The former dominates the discourses that flow from academic elites, business organizations, and United Nations agencies. The second is increasingly present in the resistance of peasant and indigenous peoples and in the most radical and advanced environmental struggles.

Only spirituality will manage to stop the road to collapse.

Translated by Jane K. Brundage from the article, La Espiritualidad y la Defensa de la Tierra, Victor M. Toledo, La Jornada, 14 June 2022.


Victor M. Toledo, research scientist at the Institute for Ecosystem and Sustainability Research (Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad), Morelia Campus UNAM, is a Mexican biologist with PhD from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Dr. Toledo has combined his scientific training with studies in economic policies, agrarian cultures and rural sociology. An expert in ethnoecology (the cross-cultural study of how people perceive and manipulate their environments), his studies and theoretical contributions regarding the relations between indigenous cultures and the natural world are recognized internationally. Dr. Toledo served as head of the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in the administration of Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador from May 2019 to September 2020.


"You don't choose your family. They are
God's gift to you, as you are to them."

Desmond Tutu (1931-2021)


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