This week’s post is from Rachel Hyden, OU’s Better Together campus organizer.
There is not a single thing in my life that is not affected by my core set of beliefs. Every action, every thought, every word I speak is connected to my morals and my ethics, which I define as my religion. For some, religion is considered just one aspect of who they are, as if it were simply a title like “student” or “activist”. But for me, my beliefs define the person I am, because I live what I believe.
So what are these beliefs that so fiercely drive my every move? As cliché as this sounds, I believe in the power of co-existence, or inter-being. Not only co-existence between humans, but of all things, sentient or not. I believe in the value of non-harming, and that we should make it our utmost priority to ensure no being suffers. I believe in truth, love, and above all, equality.
As an environmental activist, these beliefs fuel my fire in protecting this planet. To exist we depend on all things for life. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the soil to plant our crops. If we continue to exploit the earth as we have for so long, we will lose our access to these vital components that make our existence possible. Therefore, we must exist in harmony with all things, because our survival depends on the survival of everything else.
My belief in non-harming goes beyond the harming of just “beings”. We should protect all things from harm; trees, water, animals, and of course humans. When we harm our planet and all things on it, we harm ourselves. We degrade our waterways, our air, our soil, and our quality of life, and in turn, we suffer. We must protect our planet if we want to protect ourselves.
The value of truth plays a major role in my activism. I work tirelessly on environmental issues to unveil the truth to the public. If major corporations are going to devastate the earth for financial gain, the public deserves to know. My love for this earth and all things is what keeps my chin up when the going gets tough. There are times when I want to give up, when I truly believe the battle is lost. But it is always the love for the beautiful things this world has to offer that mends my many wounds.
But despite the mending, I am still scarred from the injustices I see in my work—the deliberate taking of private land for oil and gas extraction; the stealing of public waters to taint with chemicals to fracture shale; the poisoning of our drinking water; the deforestation and destruction of ecosystems; the greed of those at the top, and the exploitation of those at the bottom. These injustices must be stopped.
We are all equal. Without one, the other can’t exist.