A reflection on Davi Yanomami & Mauricio Ye’Kuana’s visit to Lee House

I had the privilege last Saturday of attending a CAFOD day hosting Davi Yanemami Kopenawa and Mauricio Ye’Kuana. These two men are key activists from indigenous tribes in the northern Brazilian Amazon, and vital members in CAFOD partner group Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY). Although they come from different tribes (Davi is from the Yanomami people, and Mauricio, the Ye’Kuana people), both are working for indigenous rights and the protection of the rainforest which is their home. I found these two men’s stories profoundly moving, not only for the work they do and the struggles they face, but maybe more especially for the wise understanding they have of their relationship to this world. This is an understanding we have a lot to learn from.

Lee House welcomes Davi & Mauricio

Lee House welcomes Davi & Mauricio

Davi and Mauricio’s talk wove the threads of a story which seems to have been lost in our Western world; a world of individualism, Cartesian dualism, separation, and ultimately disconnect. It might sound like a ‘new’ story to us, but in fact is a story that goes back to our source, to the beginning of time itself. This explains, I think, the resonance and draw it has for me. A book I am reading puts it beautifully: these stories ‘exemplify a way of being that we intuitively recognise and long for. They stir a memory in our hearts, and awaken a desire to return.’(Eisenstein, ‘The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible’).

Davi and Mauricio spoke of a ‘mother earth’ who cares for them as they care for her. This is a personal, reciprocal relationship. Both parties are living beings, responding to each other, as sacred, precious, and interdependent. We are all – the people, the creatures, the plants, the air, the water – strands in the great tapestry of life, whose thread is sacred, imbued with the divine. Matter and spirit are one. You and I are one. Humanity and creation are one. As such, what we do to any part of creation, we do to ourselves. A Native American leader, Chief Seattle puts this gracefully: ‘This we know: the earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth. We did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.’

This story of connectedness leads almost by definition to a very different way of living in the world, and one which doesn’t necessarily sit naturally alongside the industrialised, consumerist society that dominates today. I seem to inhabit a world of barriers to creation. I cover my skin with clothes, I put shoes between my feet and the ground, I live inside brick walls, I put text on a screen between me and others, I get my food from a sanitised, cooled supermarket shelf…the list could go on. Now you may point out, that living in the UK – if I didn’t do some of these things, I would be very cold and wet a lot of the time… but I do think there is an underlying point. In our western world, connection to creation, even to ourselves, isn’t obviously part of the set up, and so we might need to make a point of seeking creation out, in order to re-connect. Because until we re-connect, we are likely to continue cutting down trees, poisoning rivers and land with pesticides, buying the jewellery made from illegal gold-mining which is destroying the communities and forests of Davi and Mauricio.

So, what have I taken away from the testimony of these two men?

I think it is an invitation. To re-connect, to take off my shoes, to stand in the garden and feel this living, vibrant, sustaining ‘mother earth’ that I am a part of. I feel an invitation to get in touch with this sacred life that flows through all things, including myself, and which connects me, not only to this garden behind my house, or my family and friends, but also to Davi and Mauricio, to their communities, and to all people and life the world over. Imagine if our actions reflected this idea that we are all one body, all one world, all precious and sacred. Imagine the ripples that would spread.

Iona Reid-Dalglish

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Beyond IF

The IF campaign has sent out a big THANK YOU reminding us that together we have made things happen.  VinB will keep adding it’s voice until there is Enough Food for Everyone!

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What you say and what you do…gaping gap tells a story

An end to  tax evasion in  developing countries is an  ongoing aim of  the IF Campaign that VinB was proud to support all the way to  Hyde Park.  Now we are wondering where things are up to on the home front.

The PM played a key role in highlighting the effects of corporate tax evasion on developing countries that culminated in the G8 countries agreeing some broad principles for the way forward.   All the while, amid the huffing and puffing and high minded indignation that caught the headlines ministers were putting in place an array of tax breaks and sweetners. One being the so called Black Box  tax breaks designed to attract research and development companies to the UK and last week it was announced that home grown mining company Cuadrilla are to receive tax breaks for shale gas extraction. Not forgetting of course the planned  annual reduction of  Corporation Tax down to  20%.  One cannot but wonder about the credibility that will be attributed to the UK by fellow G8/20 members given the gap between our rhetoric and action.

On a slightly  more positive note Business Minister Vince Cable has just published a discussion document on proposals to increase company transparency, though it is criticized as being too wishy-washy. Hope is at hand with the more meaty United Kingdom Corporate and Individual Tax and Financial Transparency Bill  introduced by Labour minister, Michael Meacher, and which has its second reading in September.

It will be interesting to see what  amendments are made to the Bill  given the likely conflict of interests amongst the MP’s and pressure from  business lobbying groups. Reforming taxation is an eye watering  task given its huge complexity. Some would say better to start again than try to fix something that is broken.

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Taking to the Streets

ifVINBlondonSmWe need to be the change that the world needs!

Volunteer in Brazil trustees along with CAFOD supporters from Clitheroe and many thousands more in Hyde Park joined the IF Campaign to call on world leaders to create a more just and sustainable world. It would seem that across the globe people are taking to the streets to demand change. Our present world order of putting profit before people has to change if we are to create a world in which all people can live dignified and fulfilling lives in harmony with the natural world.

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Its not enough until everyone has enough

The conspicuous lack of detail and glaring omissions in the  G8 communique on Tax justice is disappointing, but lets  take heart that the issues of  tax evasion and avoidance  are  now established   in the public domain and recognised as part of the  solution to eradicating  hunger and poverty.

What next: VinB will be  stepping  up the  campaign, canvassing  supporters, publicising  the injustices, reporting on progress  and supporting  the  development agencies in keeping  pressure on the  G8 leaders to make progress on their promises.

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Howling at the G8

Oxfam’s Adam Musgrave is busy packing for the G8 summit in Enniskillen next week and is adding to his bags, in best Harry Potter style, two HOWLERS to send to the assembled politicians.

taxDodge

 

Every year, developing countries lose more than $160 billion to just one type of corporate tax dodging – enough to eradicate hunger more than three times over!

 

landGrab

 

Already, G8 companies and investors have bought land in developing countries more than the size of the whole of Ireland since the year 2000. This land could grow enough food for 96 million people.

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Paying the price

Christian Aid, in this new report, asks the question … who pays the price for the hidden cost of Tax Injustice?

ifCampaign

Ana Maria Ayala’s maize crop was completely destroyed by floods in El Salvador in October 2011. Most of El Salvador’s farmers rely on what they can grow in their smallholdings. Inequality, an unfair tax system and lack of government investment in agriculture mean almost half the population live in poverty, and one-third of all children aged under five die from malnutrition.

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Missing the climate in the classroom!

Now what could a 15 year old do to influence Michael Gove’s ‘new’ curriculum for schools? Well, this is Esha Marwaha’s attempt. If you would like to support the campaign you can sign her petition at ActionAid.

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