Melanie St.James shares her path & commitment to the future
"The seeds of my awakening to the world were sewn in China 1994, on an College semester abroad. In studying foreign policy and history from a different culture, my US against them, nationalist perspective was forever exchanged for that of global citizen. I then came to see China, with its population vs. sustainable resource crisis, as a forecast of what the world would face in 50 years. And the more I looked, the more stunningly clear it was how little was being done to turn the tide of poverty, environmental devastation and human conflict across the globe.
Hoping to identify a universal root cause of the critical challenges of our generation, I thought population and family planning were the keys to “Saving the World”. Therefore, "cracking the code between population growth and human security + environmental scarcity = violation of human rights, poverty, conflict" became my primary occupation.
Years later, on a graduate field study, I came to know the people of the war-torn region of the Casamance in Senegal, West Africa. Here, through many in depth interviews and observations, the brilliance of the human condition was further unveiled. Those living in their indigenous communities were far from poor people that needed saving, changing or fixing. While they lived in economic poverty they beheld rich cultural wisdom, and a true sense of community, that the whole world needs more of. Indeed, we have so much to learn from one another.
Through this voyage, I also concluded that when people live in fear and the more they lack control of their destinies; the more children they have, driven by the innate need carry on the family line, and the more short term their choices become. Indeed, ‘the only thing to fear is fear itself’.
While people in the developing world fight for survival and bear an unsustainable number of children to assure their security, we in the US suffer the deeper poverty of isolation, and a hierarchical urgency to get ahead, which leads to unsustainable consumption.
As a species that evolved in community, many of us sense that our current social and economic path works against our inherent nature, and threatens global human and environmental security. I know it, and work to find integral solutions through EW. I also know that I am not alone in wanting to shift our collective path - but how often do we stop and see it as everyone’s collective issue?
How can we evolve as a species to think and act with the needed unity consciousness to foster real human security in our time? I believe it is within the collective answers, and in our process of finding them, that lays our deepest opportunity to change the world.
With deep thanks for your collaboration,
Melanie St.James, MPA
Executive Director/ Co-Founder