Looking at the “man” in the mirror


May 20, 2011 by sgoobie

A shifting climate.  Ancient species forever lost.  Soils washed away.  Millions of human refugees on alien lands.

These are big challenges.  Rightly, they can seem overwhelming.  If we can be bold enough the question “Why?”, most often we find blame elsewhere.

The big oil corporations.  Careless governments.  Desperate poachers.

It is easy to look outside to find culprits.  It is comforting to us, to know that others are to blame, that we have no personal involvement.  It allows us to keep thinking the way we are thinking, to keep our lives unchanged.

But if we truly want to overcome ecological crises, our narrowly external search for answers will always come up short.  At some point, as a society — even as a species — we need to face our mass denial.

It is US.  You.  Me.  We, to varying degree.

It is difficult to face the scale of our own complicity in the destruction of the natural world.  It is easier to look away, to make excuses.  It is also easier to take largely meaningless feel-good actions (e.g. turning down the heat, changing lightbulbs, etc.), wherein we feel we “do our part for the environment”.  Of course, small actions taken on a massive scale produce significant results.  But they are only one part of helping turn the tide.

To truly overcome planetary challenges like climate change, we need to look in the mirror.  We need to recognize that ecological issues are the most controversial and contentious issues possible, far beyond the scope of abortion or racism or sexual orientation.  They are cultural and spiritual crises.  They are crises of the mind, perpetuated and rationalized by addiction to specific ways of thinking.

What is most important is not that climate change is happening, or that it results from human activity.  Instead, it is that societies in many places in the world have adopted and maintained ways of thinking which permit this extremism to happen.  Action starts not just with the “low hanging fruit” — recycling, not just with taking the bus, not just with eating less meat.

Action starts with something more powerful.

We begin with the question:  Why?


2 thoughts on “Looking at the “man” in the mirror

  1. […] those who are patient and committed enough, this is a place to question, to go deeper, bust assumptions, and to delve into new paths of […]

  2. […] must avoid the dangerous mentality that we have all the answers.  We must take an approach full of questions and wonderings.  It’s a challenging, complex, daunting and often bewildering process.  But […]

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