by Tinamarie Bernard
March 12, 2010
The Middle East is conservative. But could increased "polyamory" open
people up to practices that could save the environment?
At first glance, sex and the environment don't make obvious
bedfellows. How can the answer to our environmental problems
global warming, access to fresh water, ecological sustainability, and
the use of fossil fuels possibly be found between the satin sheets
of lovers? According to a growing number of greenies, free love may
just save the world. In her newest book, Gaia: The New Politics of
Love, author Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio attempts to lay the
groundwork for this premise.
And if you can get past any initial squeamishness, there is value in
her message: Specifically, some behaviors typical between lovers in
open-relationships, also known as polyamory, may indeed be the secret
to protecting Mother Earth from her errant, environmentally
challenged children. That would be many of us.
Living where we do, in the rugged climate that is the Middle East,
many are personally invested in finding ways to better understand,
reach and communicate with our neighbors who worship and celebrate differently.
Some even suggest that the answer to the Middle East peace process
won't come from obvious, political efforts, but through grass roots
activities and outreach from environmentalists. Every time
environmentalists talk about common concerns because let's face it,
nature knows no boundaries opportunities open up for dialogue on
Until we heard about this book, however, it never occurred to us that
peace might come from shifting our views on sexuality as well, from
lying in green pastures together, if you will.
Don't believe that we didn't protest at the idea, our skeptical
brains presuming that some sex conspiracy was at play by those in
favor of open-relationships who were on a mission to convert as many
'happily married, committed for life, no sex with any others till
death do us part' to their freer pastures. It's easy to scoff at
shocking ideas, and just as important to consider them before passing
Here's what we learned from a brief exploration into the concepts of
this book: sharing is caring. If we approach life with an attitude of
fear for example, there's a lack of resources, amorous or otherwise
then we engage in hoarding behaviors. That's my wife! That's my
water! That's my land, my pastures and clean air! In other words, the
concept of scarcity takes precedence over negotiation and trust, and
power struggles ensue between partners.
Whether those partners are man and woman, husband and wife, Jew vs.
non-Jew, Muslim vs non-Muslim, conservative vs. progressive, the end
result is the same. Conflict.
Polyamory, on the other hand, advocates that partners relax their
anxieties about not getting the love they deserve (which in turns
causes all sorts of harmful behaviors such as adultery, infidelity,
husband stealing, etc). The unexpected result, according to the
author of this book, is that lovers are then free to embrace the love
they have without feeling compelled to horde it all for themselves.
Are you with us on this? Love is not the crime: criminalizing the
many manifestations of love is the crime. As long as we believe the
myth of scarcity, we hoard. As soon as we recognize there is actually
abundance, we share. Apply this paradigm inherent to
open-relationships to the earth (which she refers to as Gaia,
implying that our planet is actually a living biota, a whole being
made up of interconnected ecosystems of which humans play a part) and
you can see the dots the author attempts to connect.
Free love = sharing = less hoarding = more for everyone to go around.
In other words, making love is actually good for Mother Earth.
Our planet, by the way, doesn't really need us to save it, it will
continue its orbit, lifeless or not, regardless of how successfully
humans steward our resources and relationships, regardless of the
outcome of the current attempts to make peace, not war, in the Middle East.
That is why the ultimate beneficiary of all that sex and sharing
really is humankind. And for those of us living on the frontlines in
the Middle East, with our various experiences sexual and otherwise
informing our beliefs about the solutions to the crises we all face
environmental and otherwise the idea that sex may hold the answer
to many questions is both the oldest, and newest, idea of them all.
When females rule fornication, Mother Earth delights