Every aspect of The Gaean Way of Ecospiritual Living is intentional and carefully crafted to replace the current, harmful manner in which Western Civilization prescribes us to live. It is replaced instead with a new paradigm, and operates on different mechanisms which seek to fulfill human needs in a more robust, resilient, and just way.
Let us look at how The Gaean Way and Tribe of Gaea address various issues:
Let us first examine issues of economics, money, finance, trade, etc…
The Gaean Way recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of every person. There are always those who are less capable physically, emotionally, or mentally, and thus less competitive in the job market. Some have made serious mistakes in their lives like criminality or drug addiction, which can leave lingering physical, emotional or reputational scars which hinder them. Some are just unfortunately born in a less-privileged environment, with their race, ethnic background, and/or educational opportunities hindering them from achieving their potential.
Traditional Western Culture fancies itself to be a meritocracy, and deems people of less “merit” (by their standards) as being unworthy of enjoying a comfortable life. Unfortunately, much of what is perceived as “merit” is actually tightly bound with circumstances outside the control of individuals. Those who enjoy privilege ignorantly believe that their experience in life is the norm, and that anyone who “is just willing to work hard enough” will be able to achieve a comfortable living. Therefore, to the privileged, poverty is more a function of laziness than of structural problems within the culture.
The Tribe of Gaea addresses poverty through the communal living. With efficient, low-cost housing, locally grown food and energy resources (biomass, solar, wind), it more directly ties economic success to the efforts of the tribal community, and takes it out of the global and national economic milieu.
All Gaeans are expected to contribute in any way they are capable. A highly educated health-care professional may work at a local clinic, and earn a six-figure income, but they see that income as their contribution to the Tribe, rather than something which qualifies them for a higher standard of living than everyone else.
A man with a developmental disability such as Down’s Syndrome may be only capable of being taught simple tasks like sweeping walkways, raking leaves, or shoveling snow, but his efforts in those areas are appreciated and he enjoys in the Tribe every comfort that any other Gaean is afforded.
An elderly woman may not be able to move around well, but is capable of helping with children by reading stories to them, and perhaps helping with preparing meals. She participates in Tribal governance councils, offering the wisdom of her experience. Rather than being socially isolated and rendered irrelevant to society by being sequestered in a nursing home, she is given a purpose and an honored place within society.
Imagine a world where everyone lives in a communal village of 150 people. Some are more productive and industrious than others, but everyone contributes what they can. Everyone enjoys roughly the same standard of living, where their physical, social, and self-actualization needs are met without stress or strain. What is not met is a sense of personal superiority over others by virtue of one’s spacious house, fancy car, or swelling investment accounts.
The recent recession of 2008-2011 hit many Americans hard. It was even worse in other parts of the world, like Greece, where austerity and economics produced a whopping 28% unemployment rate.
Western Culture has made it so that employment– contracting one’s labor with an employer– to “earn a living” to pay the bills of housing, food, transportation, etc… is essential. Without employment, one goes from being a net producer of wealth to a net consumer of it. Being jobless is a source of shame for many, as they are evaluated as being unworthy to compete for the jobs they need.
In Phase 3 of the Tribe, the ecovillage, everyone has employment within the Tribe. When we build our own housing out of local materials, raise our own food, produce our own energy, etc… there is always work to be done. There is no need to submit resumes and go to interviews. People with low skills are partnered up with more experienced Gaeans, and everyone learns to tend the gardens and animals, to build housing, watch and care for children, harvest resources, and restore ecosystems for future benefit to all.
Even in Phase 2, where most Gaeans in a Hearth have jobs in the community, the loss of a job by one or two members of the Hearth does not precipitate a household crisis. It is still expected that they seek to find employment again, but there is less stress and urgency about it, and while they are looking, they can still contribute, as the Hearth will ideally have gardens to tend, children to watch, and meals to prepare. A short-term project, such as retrofitting the home with improved insulation, a new PV system, or other such home-improvement projects are perfect for the out of work Gaean, even if it means attending a class at the local Tech school to learn the skill.
Safety and Security
Living communally also offers a greater degree of safety and security. The Phase 2 Hearth is rarely completely vacant, meaning it’s a less-inviting target for burglars. A Hearth member having a heart-attack or suffering an injury is also seldom alone, and can be tended to immediately, with emergency services called promptly, and CPR and First Aid given (All Gaeans are encouraged to have at least basic CPR and First Aid training).
Domestic violence and abuse is nearly impossible to perpetrate for an extended period of time, as it will become readily apparent to others living in close proximity. Mediation is readily available (Gaeans are trained extensively in non-violent mediation and conflict resolution skills).
Insurance is less needed in a communal situation, as well, although it can help. Eventually, the Tribe of Gaea organization will be able to offer group life/medical, and property/casualty insurance for all Gaeans, with a fund set aside for helping to cover out of pocket expenses on such plans. Insurance operates on the principle of spreading risk over a larger population. With enough Gaeans in the various Hearths and Ecovillages, this level of coverage will help everyone sleep in peace, knowing that they won’t become a burden on others.
The Tribe will also likely have a number of medical professionals who can treat their fellow Gaeans at much lower cost than seeing outside help.
As mentioned above, there will likely be, in any Gaean ecovillage, and even in some Phase 2 Hearths, a number of health care professionals who can treat fellow Gaeans at a low cost.
Additionally, in any group of Gaeans, there will likely be other professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, auto mechanics, electricians, child-care providers, plumbers, etc… who can be called upon to provide for those professional needs within the Tribe. Some of those professions even support an apprenticeship system, where the skills can be handed down to interested young (or old) people, helping provide continuity over the generations.
In Phase 3, we plan to have Gaean cooperative home-schools for children. These will be run by professional educators (any village should have at least one), but staffed by volunteers, who might teach one class a week. There are some great programs available online with curricula, grading, and other services which can be utilized. No Gaean child will suffer from an inadequate education.
Adult Education will be handled through apprenticeships within the Tribe, and in the case where the skills are lacking in the Tribe, we can pay to have interested Gaeans trained by outside trainers, bringing back the skills and knowledge for the Tribe.
The Tribe also tackles some social issues found in Western Culture.
First, the issues of economic class are erased. Everyone lives a comfortable, resilient, middle-class lifestyle. They have all they need, perhaps a few luxuries, and a rich, vibrant social life with their Tribal family. No one is a “have” or “have not”, we all have what we need together.
We all live, work, play, and worship together. No one is judged by the “color of their skin”, and we hold each other responsible for having “content of character”. Frankly, racial prejudice is just not welcome in the Tribe. We recognize that many come with unconscious racial biases, but we hope that the culture of acceptance and equality within the Tribe will help erase those biases.
The Tribe is a feminist organization, meaning that we actively promote the equality of women within our own Tribal society, as well as engage in activism to promote equality in the larger culture. We even elevate the status of women a bit higher than that of men in some cases (particularly in religious expression), in recognition that Mother Earth is a feminine soul, and that women, through their bodies, are closely linked to the Earth.
Body- and Sex- Positivism
We view the body as sacred, and not inferior to the spirit. We honor our bodies and those of our fellow Gaeans. Body-positivity means fewer eating-disorders, hangups, anxieties, and shame. And we honor the body’s ability to give and receive sexual pleasure, viewing safe, sane, and consensual sexuality as healthy and good. No one is ever “slut-shamed” for enjoying it “too much”.
In light of the feminism mentioned above, combined with the body- and sex- positivity, we hold a woman’s right to self-determination in regards to her reproduction to be sacrosanct. The decision to conceive is hers. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is hers. If a woman decides she wants 5 children, we will welcome those children into the Tribe, treating them as if they were our own. If she decides to have none, even aborting accidental pregnancies, we fully support her on that, as well. The decision to have a tubal ligation, hysterectomy, or prophylactic mastectomy are ultimately hers, as well. Her body– her life!
War and Peace
Gaeans are generally pacifist. We support diplomatic negotiation and economic pressure as tactics to bring rogue states in line. We believe nations have a right to self-rule without interference from our government. We believe America has become a bully on the world stage, and are ashamed of that stance. Much of it has to do with projecting our economic power around the world, to sustain our wasteful way of life.