Panel 2: “Consciousness, leadership and will: preserving our environment”: Questions and answers, July 8 2011, Facilitator: Leopoldo Cook. Listen to the audio file in English or audio file in Spanish. – Read the original Spanish text.
Leopoldo Cook: There are many questions for Belkys Urbina, but we’re going to give two since we only have a minute per question. “What do you think is causing climate change?” “There are many ecolologists and environmental protesters, but environmental law enforcement is needed, so why don’t we have a forum about environmental law enforcement and how to implement it?”
Belkys Urbina: I have to be honest. The hole in the ozone layer was first created by the bombing that took place in the ionosphere in the Second World War. Gradually, industry has been polluting and causing damage in a very accelerated way, espeically the petroleum industry.
Regarding the second question about environmental law enforcement, before penalizing someone I have to teach them, educate them. That has been a great weakness in this country, that there has been no true education, and this should start at a young age at home. I think that the secret lies in education rather than being punitive or coercive. Thank you
Leopoldo Cook: Thank you, Belkys, for the brief answers. The questions for Chelo Nogueira: “Do you receive any support from the private sector or the government?” “Are there any programs to complement the work of dissemination?” “Why did you choose the tortoise to designate the foundation – does not our brother walk slowly?”
Chelo Nogueira: To answer the first question, our main funding comes through the Law for Science, Technology and Innovation (LOCTI). We presented our project proposals to the Ministry of the Environment and they were approved. We are currently developing economic self-reliance, by making many items for sale, such as making many useful objects from little water bottles like these. During our workshop you will see how we transform the containers from the trash into beautiful materials.
Why did we choose the turtle? When we were forming the foundation we thought the turtle would be a good idea because it is an animal that is born on land and then spends the rest of its life in the ocean. It is very mysterious. In fact, when experts talk about turtles they talk about the mystery of the turtle. They live much longer than humans, up to 300 or 400 years. It takes many lives to study the life of a turtle. Scientists must base their understandings on research done by previous generations. For the turtle, speed is not important, what matters is consistency. We have a lot to learn from this and many other animals. We thought the turtle would be a very good animal to represent us, because it doesn’t matter how fast we do things. What matters is consistent effort and where we get to. The turtle travels around the world.
Leopoldo Cook: Thank you. Frank Bracho has many questions, we will only give two. The rest you can ask him during the intermission or by attending his workshop. One question is: “What ethnicity do the Arawaks belong to and where are they located?” And the second question is: “Do you have some training centers in different areas of happiness? What indicators are used to measure satisfaction and contentment?”
Frank Bracho: To interact with the speakers, I want to quickly comment further on the turtle. I think that the animal is very wise and very symbolic even for the subject of happiness. We talk about the key to happiness and how it lies in being rather than having, in the permanent rather than the ephemeral. My friend mentioned that the turtle is one of the longest-living animals of creation, living from 300 to 400 years. Scholars have pointed out that the turtle inhales and exhales only four times in one minute, with many pauses. The turtle takes life in stride. Breathing has always been mentioned as a key to meditation because it connects us with our being. We can talk about this much more, but let’s leave it at this for now.
About the indicators of happiness, we made an outline and it contains many implications. If we look only at the issue of health, it contains all the implications when it becomes the center of the agenda. If humans are insane, if leaders, as were just talking about, are insane, they will not act well, or even function well as human beings, or manage, or be a source of inspiration.
But these are not considered in the Gross National Product, as we said. What the GNP does is measure the monetary value of goods and services produced within a country, no matter whether they are destroying the forests or are dangerous to people’s health. Health is now subordinate to GNP, whereas it should be how we operate.
The issue of health has many implications and we can talk about this at length. We made an outline of the basic indicators. How can we put these indicators in the national accounting as some countries are doing? Countries as diverse as Bhutan and England are already doing this. How are they doing it? Brazil also made some interesting efforts in places like Curitiba, etc. Here in Venezuela a lot is going on at the regional level. Later in the workshop we can talk about some examples of local experiences.
Training centers for happiness? What a great question! We have to create a new science of “happinology”. There is a lot of talk on this subject so let’s take a serious look at it. What is happiness? Let’s see what you eat it with, as the saying goes. How much importance is public policy actually going to give, beyond the rhetoric and public statements, for this to materialize?
We know that the spiritual and intangible can never be fully realized. The spiritual by nature has an element of mystery, of subjectivity, of magic, of being existential, so it cannot be operationalized or made concrete. However, one can very closely track quality, using quality indicators. You have to consider, along with quantitative indicators which form the GNP, qualitative indicators. For example, love – how do you measure love? You do not know exactly what it is, but you know that without love you cannot live. One can live without violence, without eyes, but without love we die. It is also a reflection on the subject of violence. This is a conference that is declared as non-violent. Non-violence must be practiced in action, word and thought: all three are important, all three have consequences.
Leopoldo Cook: Time is up. Jody Wright, an interesting question: what is Yama and Niyama?
Jody Wright: Yama and Niyama are 10 principles that guide our lives in a moral way. They are not rules or directions. Examples are cleanliness or truthfulness, and to think of everything as a manifestation of the Supreme.
Leopoldo Cook: In the workshop this afternoon with Jody, the 10 precepts will be explored in more detail.
(Translated by Claudia Ortega)