September 10 ~† Hugging Trees God of Small Things

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

tree

In 1973, the Indian peasants of the Himalayan foothills, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent resistance, made a stand and made a difference that changed the world.

They watched as first the British, then their own government, cut down forests in the steep mountain slopes that are the source of the sacred river Ganges.

Destroying the beautiful forests destroyed the fragile ecological balance which had been stable for thousands of years. Butchering the trees caused erosion, floods, and landslides.

As Mahatma Gandhi observed, "Earth provides enough to satisfy every manís need, but not every manís greed."

To stop the madness, the villagers flung their arms around the trees, shielding and challenging the woodmen to use their axes.

"Let them know we will not allow the felling of a single tree. When their men raise their axes, we will embrace the trees to protect them," said activist Chandi Prasad Bhatt. "Our movement goes beyond the erosion of the land, to the erosion of human values."

These Chipko (literally "tree-hugging") protesters defied and silenced the hacking. As Gandhi once said, "There is enough in the world for everyone's need; there is not enough for everyone's greed."

In five years, the grassroots Chipko movement spread to eight districts in the Himalayas, 19,700 square miles (51,000 square kilometers), these environmentalists inspired world awareness and similar ecological protests in Australia and the United States.

"Nonviolence," said and Indian proverb, "is the supreme law of life."

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