What is GAIA?
In Greek mythology, Gaia was the natural earth goddess. During the 1970’s James Lovelock put forward the notion that the earth has developed and continues to maintain a self-regulating environment that sustains life and is itself alive.
In this new time the idea of Gaia takes on a new meaning. The most precious reality of all, the Earth, is in trouble. The Earth community is a life centred community where human ecology and nature ecology are one and takes primacy. It comes first, if not, there is no tomorrow. Gaia as an earth community is about the journey we all take together, with each of us destined to play significant roles in celebrating the past, grieving over the disasters of the present and giving birth to the future. A future that is full of life, hope, peace and joy.
The telling of a new story
We must begin where everything begins in human affairs – with the basic story of how things came to be, how they came to be as they are, and how the future can give us hope. We need a story which educates us, a story that will heal, guide and inspire us.
What might this story be? A story of the earth which brings to life a sense of the earth as having a voice, as speaking to us. We must have the sense, in our communication with nature, that it is not simply the trees or the water speaking to us, but it is the earth itself speaking to us. Hence, Gaia – Earth, the most precious reality in the universe. At the present time a new relationship is being forged between humankind and the earth. If we do not care for the earth, everything else becomes irrelevant. The education profession and how it functions within the community of the earth must realign itself to reflect the primacy of the earth. If anything happens to the earth we become irrelevant. Not to value the primacy of the earth community is to say there is no tomorrow for any component of the earth community.
The role of education is to re-tell the story. The story of the universe, how it began, how it came to be as it is, and the human role in the story. We need to know the story of the universe, in all its beauty, in all its meanings. The universe story is the sacred story, the human story, the story of the trees, of the stars, the planets, everything. It is a simple story, yet as complex as all knowledge, and all history and all cosmology. This new story gives a new context for education. We need to get beyond the division between the humanities and the sciences. We need to discover new insights that will foster an integration of knowledge with an understanding of the world as a community of subjects. We are not taught that now. We are taught a lot about the human but not a lot about this sacred community of the earth. We are not taught adequately the nature of the earth in its real endowment and what it means in its integrity. Above all, we are not taught that there is a certain primacy of the earth community, which encompasses all life.
Gaia embraces this new worldview and advocates a shift to a new paradigm, a shift to a growth model of organisation. This new paradigm affirms the worth of the individual, giftedness, creating learning communities, respecting difference while searching for what people have in common, creativity, and service to others. The organisations of this new worldview appeal to personal responsibility, offering challenges to personal growth, helping the individual to appreciate their gifts, and then use them for the benefit of the organisation and at the service of others. Gaia believes that organisations will function better if its members are nurtured, encouraged, and supported to recognize and utilize their potential, and to have a voice in the process of decision making on issues concerning them.
The wisdom we need today, I suspect, may well lay in our ability to imagine a world born anew where a new consciousness emerges that responds differently to life, where respect dignity, integrity, imagination and a sense of the sacred for all creation becomes central in all that we do. In doing so we become more respectful and sensitive towards Gaia and all its life systems which nurtures and sustains us into existence.
"We are all made from the ashes of dead stars" (Sallie McFague). In keeping with this dramatic shift in our worldview we are the stars brought into a form of life that enables life to reflect on itself. Therefore, the star does know of its great work, its beauty and its’ amazing contribution to life. The lighthouse leads us into the light and the rainbow signals new life that is full of hope, joy and peace. Moreover, when we consider the development of the world and our place in it, our sense of wonderment ought to awaken us from our slumber.
Gaia, trading name is Gaia Education Services (GES) Pty Ltd was founded in 2002 as a an education consulting and networking organisation dedicated to the earth through its call to peace, justice and well being for the human spirit.
The extra income GES receives from its activities goes to support community organisations who are committed to creating a more just and sustainable, more environmentally and socially conscious world.