Our Way into the Future

By Thomas Berry
Bell Tower 1999, New York, New York


Because the exaltation of the human and the subjugation of the natural have been so excessive, we need to understand how the human community and the living forms of Earth might now become a life-giving presence to each other. -ix

An indispensable resource in fulfillment of this task is the guidance of the indigenous peoples of this continent, for they have understood, better than we have understood, the integral relation of humans with this continent and with the entire natural world. Our future destiny rests even more decisively on our capacity for intimacy in our human-Earth relations. -x

Our educational institutions need to see their purpose not as training personnel for exploiting the Earth but as guiding students toward an intimate relationship with the Earth. ... We must first have a vision of the future sufficiently entrancing that it will sustain us in the transformation of the human project that is now in process. Such an entrancing vision we propose here as the Ecozoic Era, the period when humans would become a mutually beneficial presence on the Earth.... That future can exist only when we understand the universe as composed of subjects to be communed with, not as objects to be exploited. -x, xi

Intimacy with the planet in its wonder and beauty and the full depth of its meaning is what enables an integral human relationship with the planet to function. It is the only possibility for humans to attain their true flourishing while honoring the other modes of earthly being. The fulfillment of the Earth community is to be caught up in the grandeur of existence itself and in admiration of those mysterious powers whence all this has emerged. -xi

Chapter I: The Great Work

In reality there is a single integral community of the Earth that includes all its component members whether human or other than human. In this community every being has its own role to fulfill, its own dignity, its inner spontaneity. Every being has its own voice. Every being declares itself to the entire universe. Every being enters into communion with other beings. This capacity for relatedness, for presence to other beings, for spontaneity in action is a capacity possessed by every mode of being throughout the entire universe. -4

So too every being has rights to be recognized and revered. Trees have tree rights, insects have insect rights, rivers have river rights, mountains have mountain rights. So too with the entire range of beings throughout the universe. All rights are limited and relative. So too with humans. We have human rights. We have rights to the nourishment and shelter we need. We have rights to habitat. But we have no rights to deprive other species of their proper habitat. We have no right to interfere with their migration routes. We have no rights to disturb the basic functioning of the biosystems of the planet. We cannot own the Earth or any part of the Earth in any absolute manner. We own property in accord with the well-being of the property and for the benefit of the larger community as well as ourselves. -5

Some, such as John Muir, were deeply disturbed. When the decision was made to build a dam to enclose Hetch-Hetchy Valley as a reservoir for the city of San Francisco, he considered it the unnecessary destruction of one of the most sacred shrines in the natural world, a shrine that fulfilled some of the deepest emotional, imaginative, and intellectual needs of the human soul. "Dam Hetch-Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man" Teale, --20). -6

The Great Work before us, the task of moving modern industrial civilization from its present devastating influence on the Earth to a more benign mode of presence, is not a role that we have chosen. It is a role given to us, beyond any consultation with ourselves. We did not choose. We were chosen by some power beyond ourselves for this historical task. We do not choose the moment of our birth, who our parents will be, our particular culture or the historical moment when we will be born. We do not choose the status of spiritual insight or political or economic conditions that will be the context of our lives. We are, as it were, thrown into existence with a challenge and a role that is beyond any personal choice. The nobility of our lives, however, depends upon the manner in which we come to understand and fulfill our assigned role.

Yet we must believe that those powers that assign our role must in that same act bestow upon us the ability to fulfill this role. We must believe that we are cared for and guided by those same powers that bring us into being. -7

We might observe here that the Great Work of a people is the work of all the people. No one is exempt. Each of us has our individual life pattern and responsibilities. Yet beyond these concerns each person in and through their personal work assists in the Great Work. Personal work needs to be aligned with the Great Work. This can be seen in the medieval period as the basic patterns of personal life and craft skills were aligned within the larger work of the civilizational effort. -10

Chapter Two: The Meadow Across the Creek

In speaking about the education of the six-year-old child, [Maria Montessori] notes in her book, To Educate the Human Potential, that only when the child is able to identify its own center with the center of the universe does education really begin. For the universe, she says, "is an imposing reality." It is "an answer to all questions." "We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity." This comprehensive context enables "the mind of the child to become centered to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge." She observes how this experience of the universe creates in children admiration and wonder, how this enables children to unify their thinking. In this manner children learn how all things are related and how the relationship of things to one another is so close that "no matter what we touch, an atom, or a cell, we cannot explain it without knowledge of the wide universe" (Montessori, p.6). - 16

The difficulty is that with the rise of the modern sciences we began to think of the universe as a collection of objects rather than as a communion of subjects. We frequently discuss the loss of the interior spirit world of the human mind with the rise of the modern mechanistic sciences. The more sig-nificant realization, however, is that we have lost the universe itself. We have achieved extensive control over the mechanistic and even the biological functioning of the natural world, but this control has not always had beneficial consequences. We have not only controlled the planet in much of its basic function-ing, we have, to an extensive degree, extinguished the life systems themselves. We have silenced too many of those wonderful voices of the universe that spoke to us of the grand mysteries of existence. -16-17.

The proposal has been made that no effective restoration of a viable mode of human presence on the planet will take place until such intimate human rapport with the Earth community and the entire functioning of the universe is reestablished on an extensive scale. Until this is done the alienation of the human will continue despite the heroic efforts being made toward a more benign mode of human activity in relation to the Earth. The present is not a time for desperation but for hopeful activity. This we discover in the firm reassertion of traditional thought and rituals that we can observe with the indigenous peoples of this continent. This we find in the teachings of Black Elk and in the resurgence of the Sundance ritual with the Crow Indians. In the writings of Scott Momaday, the inspiration of Lame Deer, the guidance of Oren Lyons, the poetry of Joy Harry, the essays of Linda Hogan, and the insight of Vine Deloria, we find a renewal of indigenous thought and a critical response to the traditional religious and scientific modes of Western thought. In each of these we find an intimate presence of the human venture with the great cosmic liturgy of the natural world. -19

In accord with indigenous modes of thinking throughout the world we might give a certain emphasis to the need to understand the universe primarily as celebration. While the universe celebrates itself in every mode of being, the human might be identified as that being in whom the universe celebrates itself and its numinous origins in a special mode of conscious self-awareness. -19

...the work before us is the task no simply of ourselves but of the entire planet and all its component members. While the damage that has been done is immediately the work of humans, the healing cannot be the work simply of humans, any more than the illness of one organ of the body can be healed through the efforts of that one organ. Every member of the body must bring about the healing. So now the entire universe is involved in the healing of the damaged Earth in the light and warmth of the sun.

As Earth is, in a sense, a magic planet in the exquisite presence of its diverse members to one an-other, so this movement into the future must in some manner be brought about in ways that are ineffable to the human mind. We might think of a viable future for the planet less as the result of some scientific insight or as dependent on some socioeconomic arrangement than as participation in a symphony or as renewed presence to some numinous presence manifested in the wonderworld about us. This was perhaps something I vaguely experienced in that first view of the lilies blooming in the meadow across the creek. -20

Chapter Three: The Earth Story

For our sense of reality three commitments are basic: to observational science, to a developmental universe, to an inner self-organizing capacity. We cannot do without our earlier experiences of the numinous presence manifested in the great Cosmic Liturgy. We cannot do without our humanistic traditions, our art and poetry and literature. But these traditions cannot themselves, simply with their own powers, do what needs to be done. -24

If formerly we knew by downward reduction processes that considered the particle as the reality and wholes as derivative, we now recognize that it is even more important that we integrate upward, because we cannot know particles and their power until we see the wholes that they bring into being. - 25

The second aspect of our present knowledge is that the universe is revealed to us as irreversible emergent process. We no longer live simply in a spatial mode of consciousness where time is experienced as a seasonal renewing sequence of realities that keep their basic identity in accord with the Platonic archetypal world. We now live not so much in a cosmos as in a cosmogenesis; that is, a universe ever coming into being through an irreversible sequence of transformations moving, in the larger arc of its development, from a lesser to a great order of complexity and from a lesser to great consciousness. - 26

The third foundation for appreciating our own times is to recognize that there exists at every level a basic tendency toward self-organization. 26

We can recognize in ourselves our special intellectual, emotional, and imaginative capacities. That these capacities have existed as dimensions of the universe from its beginning is clear since the universe is ever integral with itself in all its manifestations throughout its vast extension in space and throughout the sequence of its transformations in times. The human is neither an addendum nor an intrusion into the universe. We are quintessentially integral with the universe. - 32

In ourselves the universe is revealed to itself as we are revealed in the universe. Such a statement could be made about any aspect of the universe because every being in the universe articulates some special quality of the universe in its entirety. Indeed nothing in the universe could be itself apart from every other being in the universe, nor could any moment of the universe story exist apart from all the other moments in the story. Yet it is within our own being that we have our own unique experience of the universe and of the Earth in its full reality. -- 32.

Chapter Four: The North American Continent

One of the most touching events in the early history of Virginia was the question posed to John Smith by the chief of the Powhatan confederacy after there had been some aggressive act by the colonists: "Why do you take by force what you may have quietly by love? Why will you destroy us who supply you with food? What can you get by war...? We are unarmed and willing to give you what you ask, if you come in a friendly manner and not with swords and guns, as if to make war upon an enemy" (Jamestown Voyages, edited by L. Barbour, 375 sq., quoted in T. C. McLuhan, Touch the Earth: A Self-Portrait of Indian Existence 66).- 37-38.

When in the seventeenth century the Europeans came here they might have established an intimacy with this continent and all its manifestations. They might have learned from the peoples here how to establish a viable relationship with the forest and with the forest inhabitants. They might have understood the rivers and mountains in their intimate qualities. They might have seen this continent as a land to be revered and dwelt on with a light and gracious presence. Instead it was to the colonists a land to be exploited, a theme developed by Annette Kolodny in her study of America called The Lay of the Land. - 41.

From their arrival the colonists were ambivalent in their understanding of the continent. To some the land was seen as hostile, as possessed of heathen spirits. For others the land needed simply to be conquered and brought under human and Christian discipline. That the indigenous peoples were more interested in living than in working bothered the missionaries considerably. That there was no tendency to "use" the land in terms of exploitation; that there was no drive toward "progress" was a decadence not to be accepted.

Neither land nor animals nor humans can prosper in such conditions. The first of the creatures to become extinct was the auk, a defenseless bird in Newfoundland. - 41.

Even before all this happened, this attitude toward the land wad described by William Strickland in the account of his journey up the Hudson River in 1794-1795. He wrote of the settlers in this area that they seemed to have

An utter abhorrence for the works of creation that exist on the place where he unfortunately settles himself. In the first place he drives away or destroys the more humanized Savage the rightful proprietor of the soil; in the next place he thoughtlessly, and rapaciously exterminates all living animals, that can afford profit, or maintenance to man, he then extirpates the woods that cloath and ornament the country, and that to any but himself would be of greatest value, and finally he exhausts and wears out the soil, and with the devastation he has thus committed usually meets with his own ruin; for by this time he is reduced to his original poverty; and it is then left to him only to sally forth and seek on the frontiers, anew country which he may again devour.... The day appears not too distant when America so lately an unbroken forest, will be worse supplied with timber than most of the old countries of Europe. [Strickland, Journal of a Tour of the United States of America 1794-1795, p 146-47]

The settlers were in quest of land and wealth, at whatever cost to the well-being of the continent itself. This attitude of exploitation of the land and the devastation of wildlife found expression much later in the journalist Charles Krauthammer, who in an editorial essay in Time magazine wrote concerning the controversy over the preservation of the spotted owl: "Nature is our ward, not our master. It is to be respected and even cultivated. But it is man's world. And when man has to choose between his well-being and that of nature, nature will have to accommodate.... Man should accommodate only when his fate and that of nature are inextricably bound u In whatever situation the principle is the same; protect the environment because it is man's environment" (Time, 17 June 1991, 82).

This statement brings out the two contending attitudes toward the natural world. To indigenous peoples and to those in the founding period of the classical civilizations the natural world was the manifestation of a numinous presence that gave meaning to all existence.....Human Societies...simply gave intelligent recognition of that spirit presence pervading the entire natural world.. The natural world provided both the physical and the psychic needs of humans.

As seen by the Europeans the continent was here to serve human purposes through trade and commerce as well as through the more immediate personal and household needs of the colonists. They had nothing spiritual to learn from this continent.. -44.

Chapter Five: The Wild and the Sacred

To understand the human role in the functioning of the Earth we need to appreciate the spontaneities found in every form of existence in the natural world, spontaneities that we associate with the wild-that which is uncontrolled by human dominance. We misconceive our role if we consider that our historical mission is to "civilize" or to "domesticate" the planet, as though wildness is something destructive rather than the ultimate creative modality of any form of earthly being. We are not here to control. We are here to become integral with the larger Earth community. The community itself and each of its members has ultimately a wild component, a creative spontaneity that is its deepest reality, its most profound mystery. - 48

We become sacred by our participation in this more sublime dimension of the world about us. - 49

The spiritual and the physical are two dimensions of the single reality that is the universe itself. There is an ultimate wildness in all this, for the universe, as existence itself, is a terrifying as well as a benign mode of being. If it grants us amazing powers over much of its functioning we must always remember that any arrogance on our part will ultimately be called to account. The beginning of wisdom in any human activity is a certain reverence before the primordial mystery of existence, of the world about us is a fearsome mode of being. We do not judge the universe. The universe is even now judging us. This judgment we experience in what we refer to as the "wild." - 50.

I speak of the wild dimension of existence and the reverence and fear associated with the wild, since precisely here is where life and existence and art itself begin. When Thoreau in his essay on walking said, "In Wildness is the Preservation of the World," he made a statement of unsurpassed significance inhuman affairs. I know of no more comprehensive critique of civilization, this immense effort that has been made over these past ten thousand years to bring the natural world under human control. Such an effort would even tame the inner wildness of the human itself. It would end by reducing those vast creative possibilities of the human to trivial modes of expression. 50.

This mutual attraction and mutual limitation of gravitation is, perhaps, the first expression and the primordial mode of artistic discipline It gave to the universe its initial sense of being at home with itself and yet caught up in a profound discontent with any final expression of itself. We might consider, then, that the wild and the disciplined are the two constituent forces of the universe, the expansive force and the containing force bound into a single universe and expressed in every being in the universe. This too is the ultimate secret of the planet Earth. When first the solar system gathered itself together with the sun as the center surrounded by the nine fragments of matter shaped into planets, the planets that we observe in the sky each night, these were all composed of the same matter; yet Mars turned into rock so firm that noting fluid can exist there, and Jupiter remained a fiery mass of gasses that nothing firm can exist there. - 52.

The human, perhaps, could only have appeared in such a period of grandeur, [Cenozoic] for the inner life of the human depends immediately on the outer world of nature. Only if the human imagination is activated by the flight of the great soaring birds in the heavens, by the blossoming flowers of Earth, by the sight of the sea, by the lightning and thunder of the great storms that break through the heat of summer, only then will the deep inner experiences be evoked within the human soul. - 55.

Chapter Six: The Viable Human

We need to move from our human-centered to an earth-centered norm of reality and value. Only in this way can we fulfill our human role within the functioning of the planet we live on. Earth, within the solar system, is the immediate context of our existence. Beyond the sun is our own galaxy and beyond that the universe of galactic systems that emerged into being some fifteen billion years ago through some originating source beyond human comprehension.

Establishing this comprehensive context of our thinking is important in any consideration of human affairs, for only in this way can we identify any satisfying referent in our quest for a viable presence of the human within the large dynamics of the universe. The universe itself is the enduring reality and the enduring value even while it finds expression in a continuing sequence of transformations.

By bringing forth the planet Earth, its living forms, and its human intelligence, the universe had found, so far as we know, its most elaborate expression and manifestation of its deepest mystery. Here, in its human mode, the universe reflects on and celebrates itself in a unique mode of conscious self-awareness. Our earliest documents reveal a special sensitivity in human intellectual, emotional, and aesthetic response to this larger context of survival. The Universe, the Earth, the Human are centered in one another. The later realms of being are dependent on the earlier for survival while the earlier realms are dependent on the later for their more elaborate manifestation. The more complex are dependent on the more simple; the more simple are revealed in the more elaborate. -56-57.

Once we recognize that a change from a human-centered to an Earth-centered norm of reality and value is needed, we might ask how this is to be achieved and how it would function. We might begin by recogniz-ing that the life community, the community of all living species, including the human, is the greater reality and the greater value. The primary concern of the human community must be the preservation and enhancement of this comprehensive community, even for the sake of its own survival. - 58.

This opposition between the industrial-commercial entrepreneur and the ecologist can be considered as both the central human issue and the central earth issue of the Twenty-first century. It seems quite clear that after these centuries of industrial efforts to create a wonderworld we are in fact creating wasteworld, a nonviable situation for the human mode of being. 59.

To the ecologist, reducing the planet to a resource base for consumer use in an industrial society is already an unacceptable situation. The planet and all its components are reduced to commodities whose very purpose of existence is to be exploited by the human. Our more human experience of the world of meaning has been diminished in direct proportion as money and utilitarian values have taken precedence over the numinous, aesthetic, and emotional values. In a corresponding way, any recovery of the natural world in its full splendor will require not only a new economic system but a conversion experience deep in the psychic structure of the human. - 60.

As regards law, the basic orientation of American jurisprudence is toward personal human rights and toward the natural world as existing for human possession and use. To the industrial-commercial world the natural world has no inherent rights to existence, habitat, or freedom to fulfill its role in the vast community of existence. Yet there can be no sustainable future, even for the modern industrial world, unless these inherent rights of the natural world re recognized as having legal status. The entire question of possession and use of the Earth, either by individuals or by establishments, needs to be considered in a more profound manner than Western society has ever done previously. - 60-61.

One of the most essential roles of the ecologist is to create the language in which a true sense of reality, of value, and of progress can be communicated to our society. - 63.

For the ecologist, the great model of all existence is the natural ecosystem, which is self-ruled as a community in which each component has its unique rights and its comprehensive influence. The ecologist, with a greater sense of the human as a nurturing presence within the larger community of the geological and biological modes of Earth being, is sponsoring a mode of human activity much closer to the feminine than to the masculine modes of being and of activity. 64

In this new context of a viable human mode of being, the primary educator as well as the primary lawgiver and the primary healer would be the natural world itself. The integral Earth community would be a self-educating community within the context of a self-educating universe. Education at the human level would be the sensitizing of the human to those profound communications made by the universe about us, by the sun and moon and stars, the clouds and rain, the contours of the Earth and all its living forms.

The music and poetry of the universe would flow into the student; also a sense of the deep mystery of existence as well as insight into the architecture of the continents and engineering skills whereby the great hydrological cycles function in moderating the temperature of the Earth, in proving habitat, and in nourishing the multitudes of living creatures.

This orientation toward the natural world should be understood in relation to all human activities. The Earth would be our primary teacher in industry and economics. It would teach us a system in which we would create a minimum of entropy, a system in which there would be a minimum of unusable or unfruitful waste. -- 64-65.

E.g. New England artificial wetlands, Genesis Farm, Amory Lovins book Soft Energy Paths, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry, Eco-City Berkeley, Curitiba, Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh by Helena Norberg-Hodge, the medical profession "A healing of the Earth is a prerequisite for the healing of the human" - 67., media and advertising, groups like Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd and Earth First!

The archetypal journey of the universe can now be experienced as the journey of each individual, since the entire universe has been involved in shaping our individual psychic as well as our physical being from that first awesome moment when the universe emerged.

We might now recover our sense of the maternal aspect of the universe in the symbol of the Great Mother, especially in the Earth as that maternal principle out of which we are born and by which we are sustained. Once this symbol is recovered the dominion of the patriarch principle that has brought such aggressive attitudes into our activities will be mitigated. If this is achieved then our relationship with the natural world would undergo one of its most radical readjustments since the origins of our civilization in classical antiquity.

We might also recover our archetypal sense of the Cosmic Tree and the Tree of Life. The tree symbol gives expression to the organic unity of the universe, but especially of the Earth in its integral reality. Obviously any damage done to the tree will be experienced throughout the entire organism. This could be one of our most effective ways of creating not simply conscious decisions against industrial devastation of the Earth by a deep instinctive repulsion to any such activity. This instinct should be as immediate as the instinct for survival itself.

A fourth symbol of great significance in this context is the Death-Rebirth symbol. This symbol is especially relevant to the cosmic process of continuing transformation. The industrial age came about by appeal to transformation symbolism, a passing from the old, the antiquated, the oppressive, the confining, into the new, the vital, the visionary, the liberating. Death-Rebirth symbolism as used by the modern industrial movement must now be turned from its destructive orientation toward a more integrating role. - 69-70.

Both education and religion need to ground themselves within the story of the universe as we now know it through our empirical ways of knowing. Within this functional cosmology we can overcome our alienation and begin the renewal of life on a sustainable basis. This story is a numinous revelatory story that could evoke not only the vision but also the energies needed for bring ourselves and the entire planet into a new order of survival. - 71.

Chapter Seven: The University

All four-the political, religious, intellectual, and economic establishments-are failing in their basic purposes for the same reason. They all presume a radical discontinuity between the nonhuman and the human modes of being, with all the rights and all inherent values given to the human. The other-than-human world is not recognized as having any inherent rights or values. All basic realities and values are identified with human values. The other-than-human modes of being attain their reality and value only through their use by the human. This attitude has brought about a devastating assault on the nonhuman world by the human. - 72.

As now functioning, the university prepares students for their role in extending human dominion over the natural world, not for intimate presence to the natural world. Use of this power in a deleterious manner has devastated the planet. We suddenly discover that we are losing some of our most exalted human experiences that come to us through our participation in the natural world. So awesome is the devastation we are bringing about that we can only conclude that we are caught in a severe cultural disorientation, a disorientation that is sustained intellectually by the university, economically by the corporation, legally by the Constitution, spiritually by religious institutions. - 73.

For we are changing not simply the human world, we are changing the chemistry of the planet, even the geological structure and functioning of the planet. We are disturbing the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the geosphere, all in a manner that is undoing the work of nature over some hundreds of millions, even billions of years. The genetic strains we have extinguished will never return. ...

To preserve the integrity of the Earth economy should be the first purpose of any human economic program, Yet it would be difficult, until recently, to find a university where this first principle of economics is being taught. It is a strange thing to witness humans moving from suicide, homicide, and genocide to biocide and geocide under the illusion that they are improving the human situation.

Not only is this devastation of the natural world due to an industrial economy that is willing to wreck the entire planet for financial gain or some so-called improvement in the human condition. It is due also the American Constitution, which guarantees to humans participatory governance, individual freedoms, and right to own and dispose of property-all with no legal protection for the natural world. The jurisprudence supporting such a constitution is profoundly deficient. It provides no basis for the functioning of the planet as an integral community that would include all its human and other-than-human components. Only a jurisprudence based on concern for an integral Earth community is capable of sustaining a viable planet. - 74.

The religious establishments are also seriously deficient in not teaching more effectively that the natural world is our primary revelatory experience. Emphasis on verbal revelation to neglect of the manifestation of the divine in the natural world is to mistake the entire revelatory process. Added to this is the excessive emphasis in Western religious traditions on redemption processes to the neglect of creation processes. This emphasis leaves us unable to benefit religiously from that primary and most profound mode of experiencing the divine in the immediacies of life. - 75.

In the field of economics there is the Society of Ecological Economics established by Herman Daly and Robert Costanza. In jurisprudence is the emergence of the Earth Charter as a basis for recognition of the comprehensive Earth community. In the area of religion the Forum on Religion and Ecology arose from the three-year conference series at Harvard examining the various views of nature in the world's religious traditions. In education the greening of the university around the Tailloires Declaration is encouraging universities and their leaders to embody sustainable practices. - 76.

As indicated by Thomas Aquinas, the most renowned of medieval theologians, "The order of the universe is the ultimate and noblest perfection in things" (Aquinas, SCG, bk. 2, cha 46). -- 77.

"The whole universe together participates in the divine goodness and represents it better than any single being whatsoever" (Aquinas, ST. Q.47, Art.1). - 77.

Black plague, René Descartes

If such concerns [nonhuman rights] were not under discussion in the eighteenth century when the American Constitution was being written, they must be the central issue in any present discussion of the legal context of our society. The critical mission of the university law schools is to address these issues in a depth that has not yet manifested. Amore expanded basis for jurisprudence seems to be indicated. A beginning has been made by Justice William O. Douglas in A Wilderness Bill of Rights, published as long ago as 1965. - 80.

[The story of the universe] can fulfill its role only if the universe is understood as having a psychic-spiritual as well as a physical-material aspect from the beginning. This should not be difficult since we know what something is by its appearance and by what it does. We know a mockingbird by the variety of its songs, by its size, by the slate gray color of its feathers and by the white patch on its wings and the white feathers in its tail. Since the universe brings us into being with all our knowledge and our artistic and cultural achievements, then the universe must be an intellect-producing, aesthetic-producing, and intimacy-producing process.. - 81.

We now know ourselves as genetically related to every other living being in the universe. - 83.

While our universities have gone through many transitions since they first came into being in the early medieval period, they have never experienced anything like the transition that is being asked of them just now. The difficulty cannot be resolved simply by establishing a course or a program in ecology, for ecology is not a course or a program. Rather it is the foundation of all courses, all programs, and all professions because ecology is a functional cosmology. Ecology is not a part of medicine; medicine is an extension of ecology. Ecology is not a part of law; law is an extension of ecology. So too, in their own way, the same can be said of economics and even the humanities.

...The new situation requires that the university finds its primary concern in a functional cosmology.. - 84.

We are now caught in a mind-tormenting ambivalence. We have such vast understanding of the universe and how it functions, and yet we manifest such inability to use this knowledge beneficially either for ourselves or for any other mode of earthly being. While this is not the time for continued denial by the universities for attributing blame to the universities, it is the time for universities to rethink themselves and what they are doing. - 85.

Chapter Eight: Ecological Geography

Earth, we might say, is a single reality composed of a diversity beyond all understanding or description. This diversity in its arctic and tropical regions, its oceans and its continents, in its mountains and valleys, its forests and deserts, its rivers and their floodplains, all give to Earth both its endless wonder and its functional integrity. These landscape features and these living forms have come into being as some self-woven tapestry or some self-composed symphony or some self-designed painting. To experience this wonder and to enter into intimate relations with the various life communities of these regions seems to be the high purpose of human presence on the Earth. - 87.

In recent times what industrial civilizations have failed to realize is that in the particular place of their dwelling the well-being of the Earth was a necessity for their own well-being and fulfillment. - 89.

The well-being of the Earth depends to an extensive degree on our understanding of the planet in its global extension, in its bioregional diversity, and in the intimacy of the component parts in the whole. We depend on this understanding of the Earth in all its diversity if we are to know how humans are to be present to the planet in some mutually enhancing manner. Such understanding is the proper role of ecological geography. If this study were properly developed then a great advance will have been made toward achieving a viable planetary community. - 96.

While President Carter was aware that human intrusion into the planet's functioning was reaching the Earth's limits of sustainability, the succeeding president, Ronald Reagan, objected to the report [Global 2000: A Report to the President] and suppressed its printing by the Government Printing Office. 97.

What is needed is geography as an intimate study. - 98.

Chapter Nine: Ethics and Ecology

Chapter Ten: The New Political Alignment

The profoundly degraded ecological situation of the present reveals a deadening or paralysis of some parts of human intelligence and also a suppression of human sensitivities. That exploitation of the Earth is an economic loss should at lest be evident, especially when we observe such extinctions as have occurred in the seas. There we can observe that some species of fish have become commercially extinct because humans would not limit their take to the reproduction rate of the fish, even though this reproduction rate was almost astronomical in the abundance of its production, as was the case with salmon in the Pacific and cod in the Atlantic.

When the proposal is made that we must continue what we are doing "in order to provide jobs" it must be conspired as an unacceptable solution when a much greater abundance of jobs is available for repairing the already damaged environment. - 115.

...the real issue before is no longer finding expression in terms of liberal and conservative but rather in terms of the ecologist or environmentalist on the one hand and the commercial-industrial establishment on the other. A new alignment of forces is taking place throughout every institution and every profession in our society.

It is important to understand this new situation, the inherent difficulties of reconciliation, and the new language that has come into being. Only in this manner can we appreciate the true nature of the issues under discussion and the magnitude of change required in shaping a viable mode of human presence on the planet Earth for the future. All our professions and institutions need to be reinvented in this new context. We must in a manner reinvent the human itself as a mode of being. Eventually this implies rethinking the planet and our role within the planetary process. - 116.

Chapter Eleven: The Corporation Story

As long as these corporations continue in their relentless exploitation of the planet through their oil wells, their automobile manufacturing, their chemical compounds, logging projects, road building, and their assault on the marine life of the seas, then the biosystems of the planet will continue to be extinguished. The entire range of life development for the past 65 million years will be threatened. Life will be unable to provide the high level of intellectual, imaginative, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment demanded by the very nature of our human mode of being.

Accomplishment of a program of integral survival of the planet, and of the human community, requires that the dominant profit motivation of the corporation endeavor be replaced with a dominant concern for the integral life community. To seek benefit for humans by devastating the planet is not an acceptable project. The ruin brought about on this planet over the past two centuries causes a certain foreboding concerning the possibility of the corporation, as we have known it in the past, reforming itself so that it will be a support rather than an obstacle in achieving a viable future. Yet this is the challenge that is before us. We will change or we will die in a major part of our inner being. --. 118.

Chapter Twelve: The Extractive Economy

As Morton Horowitz, who occupies the chair of History of Law at Harvard University, tells us in this study, The Transformation of American Law: 1780-1860, "By the middle of the nineteenth century the legal system had been reshaped to the advantage of men of commerce and industry at the expense of farmers, workers, consumers, and other less powerful groups within the society" (Horowitz, p 253,254).

Chapter Thirteen: The Petroleum Interval

{The modern industrial world} has failed to align its own functioning with the functioning of the planetary forces on which it depends. The intrusion of the chemical profession into the physics of the universe has enable this profession to enter so profoundly into the hidden forces of the biological and the physical world that it can turn the most benign substances into the most deadly forms. - 157.

Fundamental to this attitude is the feeling that humans have the right and even the obligation to intrude upon the natural world as extensively as they are able. A person can only marvel that scientists generally seem never to have reflected on or explained to the community why the petroleum is buried in the Earth in the first place. Even the slightest reflection would reveal that nature has taken great care to bury the vast amounts of carbon in the coal and petroleum in the depths of the Earth and in the forests so that the chemistry of the atmosphere, the water, and the soil could be worked out with the proper precision. This needs to be thoroughly understood and respected lest anyone intrude into this delicate balance by extracting and using the petroleum or the coal or by cutting down and using the great forests of the planet without consideration of what will happen when these forces will no longer be able to fulfill their role in the integral functioning of the planet.

The petroleum interval is coming to its termination within the lifetime of persons living in the present. Yet there are still several decades when we can prepare for a future without petroleum. Of singular importance is the need to develop new forms of energy that are within the limits and restraints of nature's cycles. Some of the alternative sources, such as solar energy, radiant heat, and wind and water power have been identified by Amory and Hunter Lovins, John and Nancy Todd, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (Cole and Skerrett, Renewables Are Ready: People Creating Renewable Energy Solutions, 1995). Their research and writing are invaluable in pointing the way to a post-petroleum period. In the meantime, the best use of the available petroleum may be to use it carefully as we discover our way back to the Earth and learn how best to integrate a human way of life within the larger life community. - 158.

Chapter Fourteen: Reinventing the Human

We might describe the challenge before us by the following sentence. The historical mission of our times is to reinvent the human-at the species level, with critical reflection, within the community of life-systems, in a time-developmental context, by means of story and shared dream experience. - 159.

The necessity of rethinking our situation at the species level is clear in every aspect of the human. As regards economics we need not simply a national or a global economy but local subsistence economies where the variety of human groups become acquainted with the other species in the local bioregion.

Our schools of business administration at the present time teach the skills whereby the greatest possible amount of natural resources is processed as quickly as possible, put through the consumer economy, and then passed on to the junk heap, where the remains are useless at best and at worst toxic to every living being. Now there is need for humans to develop reciprocal economic relationships with other life-forms providing a sustaining pattern of mutual support, as is the case with natural life-systems generally.

Especially as regards law, we need a jurisprudence that would provide for the legal rights of geological and biological as well as human components of the Earth community. A legal system exclusively for humans is not realistic....

Thirdly, I say with critical reflection because this reinventing the human needs to be done with critical competence....We must...see that our sciences and technologies are coherent with the technologies of the natural world. Our knowledge needs to be in harmony with the natural world rather than a domination of the natural world. We need the art of intimate communion with, as well as technical knowledge of, the various components of the natural world. - 160-61)

Fourth, we need to reinvent the human within the community of life systems....While the Earth is a single community, it is not a global sameness. Earth is highly differentiated into arctic as well as tropical regions, into mountains, valleys, plains, and coastlands. These geographical regions are also bioregions. Such areas can be described as identifiable geographical regions of interacting life-system that are relatively self-sustaining in the ever-renewing processes of nature. As the functional units of the planet, these bioregions can be described as self-propagating, self-nourishing, self-educating, self-governing, self-healing, and self-fulfilling communities. Human population levels, our economic activities, our educational processes, our governance, our healing, our fulfillment must be envisaged as integral with this community process. ...

Fifth, reinventing the human must take place in a time-developmental context. This constitutes what might be called the cosmological-historical dimension of the program I am outlining here. Our sense of who we are and what our role is must begin where the universe begins. Not only does our physical shaping and our spiritual perception begin with the origin of the universe, so too does the formation of every being in the universe. This human formation is governed by three basic principles: differentiation, subjectivity, and communion. - 162

The final aspect of our statement concerning the ethical imperative of our times is by means of the shared dream experience. The creative process, whether in the human or the cosmological order, is too mysterious for easy explanation. Yet we all have experience of creative activity. Since human processes involve much trial and error with only occasional success at any high level of distinction, we may well believe that the cosmological process has also passed through a vast period of experimentation in order to achieve the ordered processes of our present universe.... - 164.

Chapter Fifteen; The Dynamics of the Future

Chapter Sixteen: The Fourfold Wisdom

Indigenous Wisdom, Wisdom of Women, Wisdom of the Classical Traditions, Wisdom of Science

Chapter Seventeen: Moments of Grace