Echo, Economy and Ecology
(Eco, economía y ecología)
A Greek legend tells us that on mount Kithairon lived Echo, (Eco in Spanish), a very well spoken nymph. The most beautiful words came out of her mouth in the most pleasant manner. Zeus, the ruler of the ancient Olympian Greek pantheon, the God of the sky and thunder, used to be very flirtatious with the nymphs. Hera, Zeus’ wife, the Goddess of women, fertility and marriage was jealous of Zeus’ many affairs and was out to catch his infidelities.
Depending on the version of the narrative, either Hera caught Zeus wooing Echo; or Echo prevented Hera from catching Zeus flirting with the other Nymphs by distracting Hera with her famed eloquence. Either way, Hera’s jealousy lead her to curse Echo, taking away her eloquent speech; condemning Echo to repeat only the last word said by other people.
For many years, I did not realise that the repetitive echo I had heard in hilly areas or caves was named after such an ingenious narrative. ‘Eco’, the Spanish word and the English Echo are both borrowed from the Hellenistic language, via the Romans. Such was the prestige that the Greek language had amongst Latin speakers.
The linguistic links between the Greek and European languages, particularly those originating from the Latin, as with Spanish, are very narrow. Hellenisms, so frequent in the Spanish language, constitute a significant contribution from the Greek.
Many old and newly created scientific and technical words of the Spanish language come from Greek. For example: geografía, geography; fotografía, photography; and biodiversidad, biodiversity. A further discussion on the contribution the Greek language has made to Spanish will be given in a follow up article. For now lets look at the words: ecología and economía.
‘Ecología’,ecology and ‘economía’, economy are two other words with a Greek linguistic origin and although their root sounds like ‘eco’, they do not share the same etymology.
‘Economía’, – economy, means the administration of a household. It comes from the Greek ‘oikos’ , which translates as home or dwelling, and ‘nomos’  meaning law.
Similarly, ‘ecología’ is the discipline that deals with the relation of living beings and their dwelling or habitat. It comes from the Greek ‘oikos’ , meaning home or dwelling and ‘logy’  meaning study or treaty.
Bruce Witzel states in his article Practical Change : “Modern civilization has largely fallen into a dualism that seems to put ecology and economy as two opposing forces”, when “in reality, the two, are interrelated”.
The reflections of Bruce Witzel about ‘practical change’ have reminded me about the importance to rethink the relationship we humans have with nature. In 2008, a Latin American country, Ecuador codified the Rights of Nature, becoming the first country in the world to do so. This initiative, pushed by the native population of Ecuador, became a milestone, an example to follow. One of the many steps needed to push forward a change of consciousness about the way we envisage our relationship as part of a natural environment.
Native peoples have an unrivaled knowledge of their local flora and fauna, and they play an essential role in the conservation of biodiversity. According to scientific studies, indigenous lands might be the most important barrier to the continuing Amazon deforestation. The Ecuadorian Constitution has recognised the rights of ecosystems, to exist and flourish.
This sounded very strange to many. How is it that nature can have rights akin to our human rights?
It should not be much of a surprise when we consider the fact that private corporations in the United States have human rights. In the book: “Entre el quiebre y la realidad” , Eduardo Galeano reminds us that over one hundred years ago, “in 1886, the US Supreme Court … extended human rights to private corporations. The law recognized to them the same rights as to peoples, right to life, freedom of expression, privacy and to everything else, as if companies could breathe.” He remarks “This hasn’t caught the attention of anybody”.
I would like to share with you a YouTube link of a video: La naturaleza no es muda, Nature is not Silent, where Eduardo Galeano presents on television fragments of his book Los Hijos de los días, The Sons of the Days. Only available in Spanish: click here. He concludes his presentation by affirming: “ … if nature were a bank, they would have already bailed it out ”.
ln Spanish we have an expression: ‘hacerse eco de’, which is similar as when in English we say ‘somebody echo’s something’ contributing to the spread of ideas, news or knowledge. I want to echo back to the beginning of this article and to refer to the power of the echo. Let us echo the global need for a change of consciousness towards our economy and our relationship with flora, fauna, biodiversity and ecosystems.
And the days walked.
And they made us.
And so we were born,
The children of the day,
Searchers of life.
(Genesis according to the Mayas) 
 οἶκος [oikos]
 νόμος [nomos]
 λογία, [logy]
 Practical change: “Change that is required is a change of consciousness.” by Bruce Witzel.
 Entre el quiebre y la relidad, Constitución 2008. Alberto Acosta et al. 1era. edición: Ediciones Abya–Yala – Printed in Quito – Ecuador, 2008 – ISBN: 978-9978-22-765-7
 Free translation from Entre el quiebre y la realidad. En 1886, la Suprema Corte de Estados Unidos … extendió los derechos humanos a las corporaciones privadas. La ley les reconoció los mismos derechos que a las personas, derecho a la vida, a la libre expresión, a la privacidad y a todo lo demás, como si las empresas respiraran … a nadie le llama la atención.
 Free translation: “… si la naturaleza fuera un banco, ya la hubieran salvado”.
 Free translation from the cover of Los hijos de los días, The sons of the Days: Y los días se echaron a caminar. / Y nos hicieron a nosotros. / Y así fuimos nacidos nosotros, / Los hijos de los días, / Los averiguadores, / Los buscadores de la vida. / (El Génesis según los Mayas)