Howling Against The Triple Bottom Line

Marc Choyt - August 12, 2013

'Human beings are not greater or more important than other species, or even the elements that keep us alive. All that is, is essential for the whole. '

In the center of the earth sit the three Grandmothers.  For hundreds of millions of years, they  have been gathered around the cauldron, stirring broth, the distilled ocher of mineral, an attar of dragons, animal, plant and humans cycling through their earthen bodies, flavored these days by infinite tears, blood from the pursuit of happiness, miasmic shadows of plastic soot clog banks swallowing mountains, fallen towers of paper, steel and glass littered with mercury lead dust imagined in the virtual coffin cubicles where sugar crack tongues are packaged in cyber-cocoon numb fizeregoogled microharded com(monsan)tosed windows in apartments of body and soul death...

And we all feel the pressure in the amplified din “The Earth is dying, the Earth Is dying” screams the Chicken Little Emperor of No Cloths green media (anti) Orwellian environmentalist in pantries of commoditized friendship defacebook (e)dishar/money loneliness anointed by the Madison avenue (anti)social media marketer... 

The oldest of the three of grandmothers chuckles.  She sits comfortably relaxed on her wide hips.  Her breasts, full of oilish light from the wheeling of stars, sag very low.  She has seen all that there is to see over and over.  

Asteroid dark winters?  Jurassic style?  Just a moment in time.  The gulf oil spill?  A pin prick.  Fracking?  Climate change--too bad...

“Most humans have always been this way,”  she says to her sister.   “A few hundred thousand or million years and Mother will find its balance."

She lifts a finger up thousands of miles, poking through roots and concrete.  She takes a drop of blood from the surface, drops it into the cauldron and the steam rises, filtered through geological time and I am breathing it at this very moment calmly reviewing the triple bottom line (3BL) of my eco-friendly wedding ring business for what it is: a version of resource-to-cash-to-trash industrial revolution mining extraction empire lite.

LIFE so great and mysterious with its unfathomable dreamtime cycles within the formidable vibrating web that interconnects us all... how can exchange just be reduced to three lines

“Such hubris, these human beings,” I hear the oldest grandmother whisper, this woman of immeasurable patience and infinite tears. 

The Lack Of A Compass 

Triple bottom LINE LINE LINE is the wrong direction.  

Though our predator eyes naturally see straight ahead, we have to listen to the orientation that is in our DNA, the galaxies inside and outside our bodies.   If you attempted to walk in a straight line on a flat surface blindfolded, you would move in spirals or circle.  We cannot navigate without a fixed point of reference.  The circle, the fundamental blueprint behind living systems, the universal forms from which life is birthed, is innate to us.  

Though we interact with circles at every moment, we do not understand them enough.  Consider a few of the circle’s qualities... They are infinitely scalable, mediating between the unlimited creative possibilities and physicality.  Connection, exchange and evolution are foundational to the circle, which functions in perfect alignment with its form.  To grow stronger, they require interdependent relationships.  

The most difficult part of circle for humans to grasp is that Community (i.e. life on earth) from the circle’s perspective is all radically equal.  Hence, human beings are not greater or more important than other species, or even the elements that keep us alive.  All that is, is essential for the whole.  

The circle’s very inconvenient truth is that the pyramidal power systems underling business and religions, placing human beings above other life forms, will doom us sooner or later.  

Triple bottom line is an improvement over regular business, but in nature, movement and excess (profit) benefits the great circle of community.  For us to model business on this approach, “people” cannot be elevated to the detriment of our biosphere and the rights of nature.  

The only triple bottom line worth orienting toward, with round eyes, is Planet Planet Planet—that is, business rooted deeply in a circle-based approach.  

One + One Does Not Equal Two

Our mistaken belief in any bottom LINE started so long ago that it has become an unquestioned truth:  1 + 1 = 2. 

Growing up in the sixties I too falsely believed the Cartesian story of PROGRESS... quantification  and human ingenuity.  I paid homage to the Apollonian gods of Science and Mathematics, believing they would solve the world problems and lead to a better life for all.    

Yet 1 + 1 ≠ 2.   

We can honor the miraculous wonders of science, technology and human achievement.  Yet the interplay of LIFE is not a neat equation that can be used by a million forms of Daedalus to justify taking without giving back like hungry ghosts with insatiable hunger, large stomachs and tiny mouths.

Long ago, just south of where I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, pueblo people used to carry a third of their harvested corn to the mountains as an offering.  The land and animals still remember.  Abundant generosity surrounds us and there is enough for all – the problem is in its distribution.  

Relationship in its infinite complexity, my psyche, your psyche, intimacy, love, connection, the heartbeat of Gaia, music from the wind playing through the aspen leaves,  this mystery of NOW cannot ever be reduced to numbers and data.  

Whether we can find our own wildness, our connection through which we can make offerings to the mountains before us today… will determine our fate.  Business is the problem and solution.  What is certain is that we need to work in circles, not lines.  The only profit that has real value for our species is that which is beautiful and deeply regenerative to ALL of life.  

When the Grandmother lifts her finger up to taste that blood in the winds east of Eden, perhaps she will say, "Ahhh... delicious." 

Marc Choyt is Director of Fair Jewelry Action, USA.  He is also President of Reflective Images, a Santa Fe jewelry company that selling unusual wedding rings online and conflict free diamond and unique artisan wedding and engagement rings.  His also sells Celtic wedding rings on his Celtic jewelry website.  This article first appeared on CSR wire.