MONTPELIER - The first day the State Legislature met this year, they had a new kind of delegate, from a constituency as old as the Earth itself. Up in the Visitor's Gallery, watching the proceedings, a polar bear looked down on the legislative chamber below. A group of students were on tour and one of them looked up and saw the bear, pointed to his classmates, and dispatched a teacher's aid to find out what was going on.
The teacher's aid approached the bear, tapped his shoulder, and asked him what he was doing there. The man in the bear mask was Victor Ehly, Ph.D., who has served as a college professor and administrator at various institutions including as interim president of Goddard College and Dean of Goddard's Graduate Program.
Dr. Ehly has a Master of Sacred Theology and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and has published numerous articles and manuscripts on the Holocaust.
Dr. Ehly took off the bear mask and explained, "I'm here as a representative of the Council of All Beings. We are here to stand up for all of those who don't have a voice in the regular legislative process - the animals, the plants, the trees, the rivers, the children, the indigenous people, all of the beings on the planet who suffer from the impacts of our activity, but who don't have a vote."
The Council of All Beings was convened for the first time in the State House in June of 2011. The International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers came to Vermont for the occasion and offered their blessings. The Grandmothers were convened as part of a prophetic legacy from many indigenous cultures that speak of a time when the Grandmothers will come together to speak for global healing.
They felt that the creation of a Council of All Beings to speak to a state legislature was one of the new forms of decision-making that would be needed to start to turn the trends of destruction, war, and environmental depletion around.
An elephant attended the Governor's State of the State address, and other beings will be showing up regularly to be present for the deliberations, to bear witness to the decisions that are made, and to bring their concerns and recommendations for change and action to the Council of All Beings, which will meet this year on June 14-15.
The Council has regular Leadership Circle meetings every month. People who are inspired to join them can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up on the Council's web site: www.councilofallbeings.org.