1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú came to speak today at the local community college in my town. I jumped at the opportunity to hear such an incredible woman speak and was especially excited that her speech revolved around global environmental issues.
In light of our local celebration of Peace Week, she had a special take on how we can save the environment that tends to get second seat to quick fix ideas like shutting off the light switches and turning off the taps when we brush our teeth. Menchú focused on something different, and vital, to our struggle to reduce our impact on the Earth.A Time of No Time
Menchú said that in the Mayan calendar, this was a special day of spirituality. And it occurs in a time that they are calling The Time of No Time.
She highlighted that our planet is warming up, yes, and resources as basic as food are scarce for the people who need it. She expressed a fear that when we use up our fresh water supply, it will be the rich who use desalination and will sell the water to the poor. And similar power problems will arise.
Now that Wall Street fell, let’s see if business as usual goes on after this point. They talk about free trade but they don’t really mean free for the people who are coming from the south…from Latin America. At this point the paradigms are shifting…and we all need to be present when that happens.*
Cooperation is the Key
Menchu said that the solution to our survival lies in our cooperative nature. A focus on nature will come with a focus on one another and the common good we must achieve. Fixing the planet goes hand in hand with fixing ourselves.
What do we do in the face of these problems? We have to increase our self-esteem. Young people have to grow with self-esteem…strengthening their knowledge, both on the material world and the spiritual one. When I speak about spirituality I am not speaking of religion. Religions have their problems in these times as well. I’m talking about cultivating values – cultivating values of co-existence, cultivating values of respect because we have lost respect so much. *
No Event Is Too Small
I arrived early to the event, wanting to get a good seat. Thankfully, only a handful of people were there. Yet, as it came time for her to speak, there were still only a handful of us – maybe about 50 sitting down and a few milling around the sides.
We’re celebrating Peace week and have an incredible speaker at our fingertips – and yet hardly an audience for her to give her speech to.
I was disheartened that so few attended, but that turned to elation when I thought about how wonderful it is that no audience was too small for Menchú – that anyone and everyone who wanted to listen to talk of peace, nature and co-existence was welcome to sit and ponder – and cooperate with one another to create solutions.
*Quotes are from Menchú as said by the interpreter.