Transitioning to an Ecological Context and Ideology

The bioregional movement encourages an appreciation for the beauty in nature and a respect for natural ecosystem boundaries as opposed to creating artificial political divisions. Humanity must learn to know its habitat at increasingly deeper levels. The notion of property ownership must be replaced by a respect for the land and an attitude of stewardship.

Human relationships must also undergo significant changes in values and attitudes. Patriarchy needs to give way to equality and balance between the sexes as the domination of nature has also been attributed to the domination of women historically. All forms of racism, prejudice, class domination and nationalism should be replaced by an acceptance of cultural diversity and the encouragement of qualitative differences. This has already begun to occur in the arts, music, fashion, cuisine and lifestyle and has been readily promoted by the global media.

The three great monotheistic religions have equated God with the masculine gender and as a supreme being and law giver. Such a disposition puts humans in a one-down position of obedience to civil and religious laws and support of the priesthood or church. Animistic and polytheistic religious views endowed all aspects of creation with divinity as an inherent characteristic of their existence along with a sense of equality and balance. Although primordial humans were not always environmental conscious, they did have a respect for their habitat and viewed their universe as sacred. Pantheism (everything is divine) or Panentheism (the divine resides in everything) was a theology shared by early European, Jewish and Christian mystics. Francis of Assisi and Hildegard von Bingen were also proponents of this religious philosophy. Matthew Fox initiated the “creation spirituality” concept and Teilhard de Chardin and Alfred North Whitehead proposed modern religious theology that was ecologically oriented as well.

The fields of education and research have seen a focus on the specialization of disciplines and incongruence between the two cultures of science and the humanities. The attitude that science is value free has prevailed with devastating consequences to humanity and nature. In an ecological orientation to education and research, ecology would replace physics as a model discipline that would necessitate a multidisciplinary and integrative approach. 

Politically speaking, our industrial-technological society has been formulated with the urban lifestyle in mind. The concept of a country, nation or state as a center of power and authority has developed from social structures founded in medieval times and no longer meet the needs of our modern cultures. The power holders, in order to fulfill their desire for power, control and material goods, manipulated the populous to accept their patriarchal values via propaganda and encouraging patriotism. This tactic included creating enemies and the scapegoating of other nations and peoples to create a powerful sense of nationalism. That nationalism culminated in a politics of fascism and genocide against many minority groups and underdeveloped nations, especially in the 20th century.

Current capitalist and socialist economic systems are based on the perception that unlimited material progress can be procured through continued and increased industrialization. Pollution of the planet, resource depletion and flora and fauna extinction, have been rationalized as unfortunate but acceptable consequences in maintaining civilization’s desired standards of living and continuance. The new eco centric economics will need to be based on cooperation, community orientation, and long-term sustainability with the recognition that we are dependent on the integrity of the biosphere for our survival.

Technologies can no longer operate on processes that pollute the Earth and direct their ends solely towards consumerism and capital gain. Fossil fuels will have to be replaced with renewable energy sources that are eco friendly and we cannot continue to produce at a level that is unsustainable given the planet’s finite supply of natural resources. We will also have to resort to the employment of recyclable materials instead of new raw materials and those that produce waste. Damaged ecosystems should be restored through the use of appropriate green technologies and practices. Technology should continue to explore new ways to meet the demands of society without harming our delicate ecosystems. We will likely have to settle for less material goods and comforts in order to maintain an equality of resources and products for all the world’s citizens.

Agriculture will benefit from community-based farming that is of small to medium scale, the use of crop rotation, natural fertilizers and biological pest control methods. Species diversity should be ensured and any genetic engineering should be done with adequate scientific knowledge and the consideration of negative consequences.

The recommended worldview presented in this section has a remarkable degree of acceptance and agreement from a wide variety of individuals working in various fields. The mistaken perceptions about our relationship with our environment and the practices we have engaged in to further society have led humanity to a crisis of eminent proportions. It is time that we as a global community, decide what direction we wish to pursue; that of acknowledging our shortcomings and changing our values, attitudes and behaviors to those that support the integrity of the planet or those that serve our immediate but short-term self-interests. The new values and attitudes being espoused are somewhat unorthodox but not unnatural. They appear to promote a passion for life, a freedom to self-actualize, a recognition of spirit, an appreciation for diversity, a yearning for wisdom and a delight in creativity.

If such a cultural transition to an ecological framework does occur as has been presented here, Thomas Berry’s expansive vision for humanity may come to fruition. Berry believes we are currently near the end of the Cenozoic period and are beginning our entrance into what he is calling the Ecozoic era. He proposes that in this ecological era, humanity will come to understand its place as active participants in nature and let go of their notion that the biosphere is just a collection of objects or resources. From this context, humanity will arrive at a place in which a sense of belonging and connectedness will be achieved.

Reference:

Green Psychology by Ralph Metzner, Ph.D. copyright, 1999, Park Street Press, Rochester Vermont. Transition to an Ecological Worldview, pp. 171-182. Accessed 21 June 2020.

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