On Respecting the Amazon and What is Owed to the Planet

How many times do we have to use the tools of the civilization that wants to destroy us, its courts and elections, to stop their destruction? Where is the rule of law when the rulers change the laws whenever they feel inconvenienced? Is it really so much to ask for respect?

by Nemonte Nenquimo at Time: Someone recently asked me why it was important to protect the Amazon rainforest from oil drilling. The question made me angry. Can you imagine being questioned about the importance of protecting your home from being destroyed in a fire? Or about protecting your home, your extended family’s homes, and all your people’s homes from demolition? Can you imagine being asked: Why is it important to protect your country from nuclear devastation?

Nenquimo, co-founder of Ceibo Alliance and Amazon Frontlines, is a Waorani leader who has won the Goldman Environmental Prize and a co-author of the upcoming book We Will Be Jaguars with Mitch Anderson

Those questions seem absurd only when you take the existence of your home and your people for granted. Western civilization has always taken the destruction of my home and my people for granted. And now, this well-meaning question assumes that I must offer a defense of my existence. It also presents a false innocence about the asker’s complicity in the continued destruction of my home.

As a Waorani leader tasked with communicating beyond our territorial borders to safeguard our land, I often face questions like this. Answering is part of the resistance, and it is not easy. Yet, with Ecuador’s government now pushing to ignore our hard-won ban on oil drilling in one of our most biodiverse forests, it remains an urgent question to answer. What I long for, and what the Amazon and Mother Earth demand, can be summed up in what is missing in the questions and policies so often pointed at me and my people: respect.

More here.