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Dr. Vandana Shiva presents over her book “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace”

Dr. Vandana Shiva spoke at UMKC this month. (The Independent)

World-famous Indian environmental activist and feminist Dr. Vandana Shiva discussed diversity, the true pandemic, climate havoc and social justice at a lecture hosted by UMKC earlier this month. 

Shiva is a trained physicist and award-winning activist who fights to improve agricultural practices and has authored over 20 books. The event, part of the First Semester Experience (FSE), focused on one of Shiva’s books, “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace.”

“Colonialism sowed the seeds of racism,” Shiva said in a discussion. She elaborated in claiming that racism’s false ideas of superiority have led to “wars of greed, wars of not knowing limits.”

Shiva mentioned that it has become easy for people to deny the humanity of indigenous people and pointed to the aboriginal communities in Australia as an example. Governments have often labeled imprisonment and enslavement as “progressive,” thereby reducing people to objects. 

“Our identities are engineered to be fragmented,” Shiva said. 

Shiva also mentioned four pandemics the world is currently facing: COVID-19, hunger, the destruction of livelihood and the inequality pandemic. She explained how 8 million Americans have slid into poverty, “further creating cracks that were already there.”   

Part of the issue has to do with our perspective of the world. Shiva believed that the Earth should be viewed as a living thing, not as property or something that’s nonexistent. 

While global havoc continues, people have grown to blame the sun for becoming too warm. Shiva expressed that the sun doesn’t need fixing – our relationship with the Earth needs fixing. 

Shiva’s agricultural approach has led to all sorts of diverse foods that she believes cultivate freedom, and she has worked with researchers and farmers to grow 750 diverse types of rice. She mentioned how diversity is the organizing system of life in foods and in people. 

UMKC student and SGA president Tim Nguyen said the event was a means “for further reflection, dialogue and action within our campus community and beyond.”

Towards the end of the lecture, Shiva called out a familiar saying in India that she found relevant to the rest of the world: “You are, therefore, I am.” This saying removes the barriers between people and emphasizes the interconnection of humanity.

Dr. Shiva’s book “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace” is available for purchase at Penguin Random House and Amazon.

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