01 Jun

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

I think recognizing the universality of human rights means knowing in your bones that deep down, everyone on the planet is pretty much just like you. Everyone experiences pain, joy, sadness, excitement, despair, hope, fear – just like you.

As it happens, the countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, India, and New Zealand have also recognized the rights of nature as legitimate and equal to human rights.

While that might look like that recognition is for the benefit of us humans (because we need a healthy planet to survive) (which is true), it strikes me more as a humble position; a modest recognition of the sentience and right to self-determination for every walking, crawling, creeping, flying, slithering, swinging, rolling, hopping, swimming, inching, soaring, stationary, phototropic bit of life.

Of course, that’s hardly enough to stop us from abusing ourselves and dismantling the biosphere. But, flawed and challenged as we are, there are also a whole lot of conscious, compassionate people trying to fix what’s broken, and bring justice and hope and peace to the world.

The International Yoga Festival & Health Expo is, at its core, a gathering of those folks, of spiritual seekers. Whether we’re talking about spiritual practices, dietary choices, or environmental action, we are all working to release the illusion that our human hearts beat to a rhythm that’s any different from the powerful, eternal pulse shared by all life.

Now, nobody ever said this work was easy. But we do it, as Corinthians says, with faith, hope, and love. We do it, as the Bhagavad Gita says, with our hearts fixed on the divine. We do it because we must.

We do it because we are the children of an utterly miraculous planet, a tiny aquamarine jewel floating in a sea of black velvet infinity. We are her warriors and her guardians and we do this work because our hearts demand it and because there is no one else to do it. We are, as the Hopi elders said, “the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

I look forward to seeing you (albeit virtually) at the Expo!

– Kathryn Blume