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Revolution and the evolution of thought

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
June 6, 2001


Do not dishonor the earth lest you dishonor the spirit of man. — Henry Beston

Recently I have noticed a distinct shift in the attitude of people around me. Perhaps this is just a case of transference, but the tension is palatable. A good deal of this can be attributed to the "energy crisis", yet something tells me it is much more than that. It's as if everyone is waiting for the next proverbial shoe to drop.

Anxiety, according to Oxford's, is uneasiness, concern; solicitous desire(for a thing,to do). Could it be our anxiousness is generated from the desire to possess everything we can get our hands on? In a culture where you can never have enough, dissatisfaction is always present, and from that dissatisfaction comes environmental destruction.

My concern is documented every time I sit at the keyboard trying to make sense of the human induced chaos dominating Southern California. Economics rule as if nothing else mattered. Dominance and other utilitarian appetites take precedence over environmental sustainability. Restraint comes only after a long fight with City Hall and other regulating agencies.

As if on a feeding frenzy, our conversation is mostly about consumption and acquisition. Our choice of words reflect our priorities, and reveal our relationship to the planetary systems that make existence possible. Instead of trees, water, and minerals we call them natural resources. Climate and the other natural features, that help define a place, are considered assets to exploit. Erosion we call bluff failures, then scream for money to fix the "problem". Our eroding quality of life we call progress.

If humans are to evolve beyond the trap of anthropocentrism, we must abandon the ethics of entitlement and the language of exploitation. To do so we must first admit human beings are just one part of the planetary equation. We must also comes to terms with the understanding that all species are equal in that equation. Far from enlightened, the majority of humans still believe themselves somehow removed from the biological consideration that effect everything else.

All species require clean and adequate , air, water, and food for survival. A balanced ecosystem is one that allows for the survival of the myriad of species that make up that ecosystem. Sadly, like most of the world, San Diego County has opted for economics over biological balance, leaving no natural system unscathed. Contrary to popular belief money does not make the world go round.

Sand no longer occurs naturally on North County beaches, and must now be piped at great expense past man-made barriers, and from the ocean floor. Native species are replaced with exotics as indigenous animal populations are squeezed out to make room for manicured strip malls and the sprawling suburb that is modern America. The only thing that is balanced is the assault on the environment.

Until the acquisition of wealth is seen as the false profit it is, humans will continue to walk a path not unlike that of the dinosaurs, the only difference is humanity's path is one of choice. Humans are choosing to destroy forests to make toothpicks and pornography magazines. Humanity is choosing to dam rivers to keep televisions running, and we knowingly use the oceans of the world as both toilet and all you can eat buffet without ever making the connection.

The evolution of thought will begin when humans start to be honest with themselves and demand honesty from others. As things are now people prefer to hide behind convenient denials. What we can't deny we use to scare people into inaction. Preserving this wetland will cost too much money, saving that species will rob people of their jobs, and providing mass transit is a threat to personal freedom. You have all heard the excuses to justify continuing the pillage. These too must stop.

As we continue to increase human populations beyond natural sustainability, we also grow the risk of planetary catastrophe. Melting ice caps, shifting weather patterns, rampant disease, and a lack of fresh water, are just a few threats to human advancement. If we are thrown back into the dark ages because of a dependence on dated belief systems that put man on a pedestal, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Revolution does not have to be violent. By shifting our priorities from consumption to connection we will begin to live more lightly on the land. Compassion and conservation will be seen as the same thing, and abundance will be something to enjoy, not something you die trying to achieve. Without a revolution of conscience, there is little hope for any of us.

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