A great victory yesterday in Toledo with voters passing a citizen-driven ballot initiative calling for a Lake Erie Bill of Rights…although I hope good friend Mike Ferner fully recovers from emergency surgery.
This as well as other past initiatives (though in much smaller communities) seeks to establish not that natural living “persons,” but natural living “bodies” have inalienable rights — certainly over corporate “rights.”
Inalienable rights mean basic freedoms, needs and abilities exist via birth. They are not conferred by others, the state or other institutions. States/government can affirm or deny such rights, but they can’t fundamentally prevent their existence. Community institutions, be they public or private, don’t have inalienable rights because they don’t inherently exist but are human created. Applied to natural bodies as I see it, Lake Erie is deserving of far more inherent protection because it came into existence over eons “naturally” vs, say, a human made lake in the middle of a housing development that someone may want to fill in to build on top of.
It’s all new ground, yet very old ground if one subscribes to Native American religious/spiritual tradition concerned the sacredness of all life. How all this legally plays out in our “civilized” world where for centuries we’ve treated nature as little more than a resource for plunder to serve (wo)man — believing that we are atop all life forms — is unknown. However, it’s finally starting to sink in that our “ecos” (greek for house — be it natural, “ECOsystem,” or commercial, “ECOnomy”) are profoundly unsustainable. We need a new consciousness — in a damn hurry. As has often been the case in the past, changed laws (including constitutions) and changed cultures go hand in hand.
It’s the end of the beginning. Onward!