War and the Ancient Question
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love” ~ Francisco D’Assisi
“I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” ~ Martin Luther King’s Acceptance Speech, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1964
Last Friday’s events made me go back to the ancient question: is humankind basically corrupted and bad, or are we all born innocent and life events corrupt us?
That basic question has been around for millennia and the attempt to answer it is the foundation to many religions in the world: most monotheist religions which are paradoxically centered in human beings as “the chosen species” all believe human beings are sinners and corrupt who need to embrace God in order to be accepted back into “his” Paradise (and God is invariably a male figure)…this mental model keep us all trapped and divided.
That view is the same offered in Steve Cutts video “Man” : according to this, we are an abusive and deeply corrupt species for whom nothing and nobody is sacred: we take and take without caring about the consequences of our actions.
Articles like this one, posted today by a friend in Facebook may make us think the same: “These investments can help you profit from global warming”…really?
Similarly, looking at the French government response to the attacks (“France is at War”) and the seeking for a coalition against ISIS/ISIL seems to perpetuate that idea: that humans will never learn (or they may, when everything we care about is already lost and there is nothing else to do)
This video post a similar question: “Are we careening towards a WWIII?
What is our role as individuals? Should we focus on what’s wrong or on building what we dream about?
Chellis Glendinning, a pioneer in the field of eco-psychology says we are all hurt: we have been hurt by a slow self-caused trauma when we started to detach ourselves from Nature and our hunter-gather origins…this is not a new view but one that makes a lot of sense: since we started domesticating and intervening in natural processes, we started exerting violence: because domestication is done through slavery and manipulation, even when it may be done with “love”: we give our pets food and a comfortable place to be in exchange for them losing their freedom to roam the woods and care for their own needs and those of their children…
She also proposes how we may stop the madness: there is a saying out there: “hurt people hurt people” and this is repeated again and again to explain addictions, abuse, neglect and even many of the sources of mental and chronic health issues…
“Break the cycle” says Glendinning: you don’t need to continue hurting once you become aware of what hurt/still hurts you: you can stop the cycle by intentionally stop hurting others…
This is the same advice Looby MacNamara has in her book “People & Permaculture” but with and addition: find the pattern, identify the cycle of erosion/hurt and find the leverage point where you can turn it backwards…
There is only one way we can answer that ancient question: by behaving with non-violence towards ourselves and others…but building the new world, the dreamed world is not enough: we need to identify and understand where this world is going wrong, because only that way we can change the wheels towards the new one.
“If we cannot envision the world we would like to live in, we cannot work towards its creation. If we cannot place ourselves in it in our imagination, we will not believe it is possible”
~ Chellis Glendinning
“We don’t have the right to ask whether we are going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is what’s the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?”
~ Wendell Berry