This email celebrates the recent announcements of the new legal personhood status of two rivers in India and one in New Zealand. Thomas Berry called for a new Earth Jurisprudence that would allow for the rights of nature, not just humans. His vision is coming to pass with these legal decisions. How wonderful to celebrate World Water Day with this special message sent out by Miriam MacGillis at Genesis Farm in New Jersey near the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
I've known rivers;
I've known rivers ancient as the world
and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers. Langston Hughes
This year, World Water Day will be celebrated along with two major events in human history.
A week ago, after 140 years of persistence in the courts of New Zealand, the Maori people succeeded in their efforts to grant the Whanganui river the rights of legal personhood. Long considered a sacred ancestor, the river’s deeper identity was reclaimed and restored. Te Awa Tupua, the third largest river in the north island of New Zealand was reinstated to her ancient status as a beloved member of the Universe community. Only in the last several centuries of western colonization had she been consigned to the status of a thing, something to be used, owned and managed. http://www.worldwaterday.org/
Similiarly, this week a court in Northern India granted legal personhood and voices to the sacred Ganges and Yamuna Rivers, two vast powerful rivers of life flowing from the Himalayan mountains. Long considered spiritual goddesses by the Hindu people who have traditionally depended on them for their physical and spiritual well-being, the two rivers will be given a voice in the courts of human law. As persons, they may speak to protect themselves against the overwhelming industrial assaults and desecration that threatened their very survival as carriers of life. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-39336284
In the year 2001 the Gaia Foundation of London, hosted a meeting of environmental lawyers from various countries to meet with cultural historian Thomas Berry to envision new forms of legal protections for the natural world. New possibilities for shaping a vision of Earth Jurisprudence were planted. Fresh ideas arose which recognized the need to situate the source of “rights’ from a context deeper than human understanding of rights as derived from western jurisprudence. http://trumpeter.athabascau.ca/index.php/trumpet/article/view/106
Thomas’s unique contribution was to transfer the source of "rights" from the understanding of human history to the source of the origin of existence itself: the Universe. These ten principles have been immensely significant in the short decades since their publication in 2001. https://1drv.ms/w/s!AkhNLVylX0V5gTI8mxjkl5etpc4-
In the decades since, these principles have been shared, adapted, deepened expanded, tested and refined. Extraordinary efforts have flowered, often combined with the wisdoms of other traditions to form alliances, law schools, community-based initiatives and ground-breaking court cases pushing the narrow definitions of rights only to human beings, and their corporate fictions. The Rights of Nature are being woven into national constitutions. Global alliances are dedicated to the protection of Earth’s total seamless garment of life.
On this day of celebrating the Waters of Earth, and to proclaiming sacred personhood to Whanganui, Ganges and Yamuna Rivers, we express gratitude to all those people who are leading in the effort to re-sacralize the world through the service of law.
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