When the Zen poet Thich Nhat Hanh was asked: “What do we most need to do to save our world?” his questioners expected him to identify the best strategies to pursue for social and environmental causes. But Thich Nhat Hanh answered: “What we most need to do is to hear within us the sounds of the Earth crying.” When we learn to hear that, we discover that our pain for the world and our love for the world are one. And we are made stronger.

(This is an excerpt from the introduction to Stories of the Great Turning, by Joanna Macy,edited by Peter Reason and Melanie Newman, published by Vala Publications. )

Contrary to immediate appearance, I am not a greeny. I do care about the environment, and I also care about business. I am interested in how the two co-exist in harmony, which is entirely possible, if both business and the greens will get off their own narrow world view soap box and come to the table to hear each other.

My work is with business. After decades of being in intimate conversation with leaders in business I know that the CEO’s of most companies do find them selves awake at 2:23AM with at least the knowing that we cannot keep going as we are with how we treat the Earth and the environment. The trouble is, (or part of the trouble is) that the playing field is not level. And the system is designed to support maximum profit at all costs. Including the cost of the earth.

People like Polly Higgins and her work with the International Law of Ecocide will be a game changer. In one stroke this will level the playing field.

For now, it takes enormous courage and higher purpose for big and small business to commit to an agenda that genuinely cares for the whole, and the long term. The forces against business doing this are so great, that only the brave and bold pioneers will take the stand. What they find in the process is that it opens up a range of unforeseen possibilities and opportunities.

I encourage you to listen to the Earth crying at 2:23AM. If you hear it it will be calling you by name. You can make a difference. Your voice does matter. The quest then becomes taking your beautiful business and having it enable all to flourish, not just the bottom line.

Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center via Compfight


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