Eco-defenders don’t care about gender. What matters to them is simple: survival.
Where can we find the 21st century eco-warriors?
Who are they, what do they do and how do they do it?
The global community is in the midst of defining that role as you read these words. The unfortunate stereotype of the environmentalist being nurturing, healing, empathetic, and etc. can distance some people from the movement. This sentiment is often used as an excuse for men to avoid getting involved in protecting nature. However, this is not the real source. It seems that when we have less connection with nature this distances us from awareness about nature for all genders. If we can understand the characteristics of a warrior from a contemporary point of view, we might see that the concept of being an eco-warrior is genderless.
First we must take a look at how people perceive the characteristics of a warrior today. I chatted with some friends about what makes a warrior. Even though they come from various backgrounds, they all share in having a personal code of ethics, a warrior’s code if you will.
Andrew, “A true warrior is a person that championed for a cause, feared no one, died with dignity, was humbled by truth and was charismatic. Life might be short, but he left his ‘Marks’ through his journey. That was a true warrior from my (Iban) tribe’s perspective.”
Either we take a stand against injustice, or we are complacent to it and through complacency support the injustice. We can’t turn the other cheek anymore. It is far too late not to stand up and fight. True warriors know that there is a battle being waged upon life, and they take a stand in whatever way they can. A warrior is not always one willing to die or risk their freedom for a cause, a warrior is one who knows there is a fight and finds a way to contribute and continue the fight until victory is obtained.
Arrow, “A warrior in these times, such as they are, is a person that can look adversity in the eye, and still move forward, despite knowing all possible outcomes. ESPECIALLY if they have been down the same path before.
The warrior fights for positive change regardless of the challenges they might face. A warrior speaks up when others are complacent. Sometimes, the greatest weapon we have is our voice, and how we wield it. Our words can push us higher as a community, or push others down. The warrior’s words raise the bar a bit higher for all involved. A great warrior (who never knew he was one) once said to me,
“You can go forward with a cavalier attitude and try to change the world, but most likely the world will only kill you. However, if you can open one mind to other possibilities, not necessarily change that mind, just open it to new perspective, then you have made a step forward in the battle, and that is a success that will resonate,” Patrick.
A warrior leads by example and might never say a single word. It is through observing their repeated actions that we can learn and change ourselves.
Mickey “A warrior … they deviate from the path of normalcy and understand it holds no value. Their greatest value is that their thoughts and actions are on their terms knowing that this changes their own lives, and thus of those around them in an ever widening circle.”
A warrior must be much more than just an example. There are truly evil forces at work behind the scenes of society. The rampant destruction of our home planet is probably the most evil thing I can imagine, because it threatens to snuff all life, not just one. This is where the warrior might not choose to silently lead by action and example. This is where the fight comes in.
Stephan “A warrior comes home and finds his sworn enemies sitting at his table. He feeds them and lets them drink their fill. Then tells them to leave, with the warning that on the road their luck won’t be so good. And makes sure it is not.
The course of environmental destruction has more than drank its fill from the Earth’s cup. It is time to send that reality on down the road and let its luck run out.
Nanci, “A warrior stands on the battle field and is vulnerable. It is that vulnerability that allows the warrior to face the opponent head on. Their vulnerability rips the warrior wide open, and that gives the warrior the strength to fight.”
It can be difficult to open yourself to this vulnerability. It is frightening. Yet in order to stand up and become your true warrior self, this vulnerability must be exposed and embraced. We have to be willing to enter that sphere of vulnerability if we desire to fight and create positive change. Warriors strip themselves down to nothing, get to the core of their being and rebuild on a new firm foundation of personal ethics. The warrior will face this stripping down and vulnerability again and again before and after each fight.
Johnny, “A warrior is one who fights, and fighting could be any form of struggle, and does not denote the right or wrong of the struggle.”
We struggle inside ourselves, even to get out of bed at times. That struggle, when faced, is part of the warrior in each of us. All it needs is a focus.
In a community, the warriors inspire each other. Challenge each other to face their faults, their vulnerability. Push each other to be stronger, depend on each other to survive. This is where the ‘eco’ can now come in with the ‘warrior’.
A warrior sets the standards for the community on the common level. A warrior is an equal to, and dependent on the community as well as environment. The warrior protects these things. The community standard of a warrior as guardian and equal can extend into the global family. As a global community concerned with the continuation of our species existence on this planet, we need to realize the need for the active role of the warrior with in all of us. It is time to step up and set that standard to protect our home.
Barry, “A true warrior is anyone who drew their first breath and lived to tell about it.”
That makes each of us living and breathing a warrior if we find it within ourselves. Each of us feels it, I cannot think of a single person around the world that I have talked to that disagrees that the environment needs to be protected. It is critical. Yet we aren’t doing it. We feel dis-empowered to take an active role against a force that seems unstoppable. But we can, the common thread I find with everyone I meet from Portland to Shanghai, from Tianshui to Makassar to Sofia to beyond all agree, environmental destruction needs to stop. That is a lot of warriors to bridge the gaps between any and all cultures. It is the one thing that binds the common people together beyond the differences of language, culture, belief system and so on.
Neil “For me, a warrior is someone who avoids the fight … Fighting is always a last resort and the male warrior in tribal society is more of the peacock … ”
A global community of actualized eco-warriors could make a culture of awareness toward protecting the environment. The standards and values of awareness would be constantly checked in the society. Autonomy and self-reliance with responsibility could emerge if we set our own standards based on the consideration of their environmental impact. With these things set in motion there would no longer be a reason to fight externally.
I see the potential in all who I meet to fight for Earth. That is our common link. Now we just need those guts, that courage to say, “Stop!” And stop is a word that anyone can say loud enough for anyone else to hear.
The characteristics of a contemporary eco-warrior seem to be those of an actualized human being who understands the importance of preservation; preservation of the self, community, and environment. Whether that preservative sentiment comes from a core of nurturing (motherhood) or protection (fatherhood) does not matter. What matters is finding the motivation to defend our survival.
Everyone who continues to struggle is the 21st century eco-warrior if they only actualize it in themselves.
“A warrior saves the day” Alaric, 3½.
Read Part One: A Short History of the Eco-warrior
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Lead Photo: flickrfavorites/Flickr