Human activity is deeply wounding our planet in many ways. The insults we are heaping on Mother Earth include the deaths of ocean species, the pollution of land, air and water, as well as the destruction of uncountable natural habitats.
Our changing climate is shifting the ranges of many species and altering rainfall patterns around the world. As we go about our business, the creatures who preceded us into this garden of plenty, and who have shared it with us throughout our history, are – like the victims of the Snark in the famous Lewis Carroll poem – "softly and silently vanishing away".
Once we recognize and accept that uncomfortable fact, we have to ask what we might do about it. The conventional answers to that question (and even some less conventional answers) reveal something profound about the way we understand the world and our place in it. Our first, reflexive reaction is to try and make our activities less damaging. The usual suggestion is that we need to develop better, greener technology.
Unfortunately, those who seek solutions to our current predicament in technology have misunderstood the nature of problem. Of course technology is an inseparable dimension of the human experience, but to treat it as the primary determinant of humanity is to fundamentally misapprehend what it takes to be fully human.
The problem of modern industrial society is one of imbalance: koyaanisqatsi. We do not suffer from a shortage of good technology, we have plenty of that. What we lack are the balancing forces of the human spirit: wisdom, compassion, recognition of oneness and interdependence. This situation cannot be rectified by developing ever more technology. Doing that will inevitably force us further and further out of balance.
Thinking of "human rewilding" or other dreams of returning to a more primitive past as a solution reveals a similarly mistaken understanding of the problem. While there might be a greater possibility of encountering humane spiritual values in a less technologically complex society, attempting to create that situation by truncating our technology will not work. Doing so would inevitably make humanity less rather than more. It would reduce the possibilities available to our creative natures, and would prevent our situation from resolving properly.
If the problem is one of imbalance, it seems sensible to me that we try to redress the balance by building up the side that is too light rather than lightening the side that is too heavy. While we may not lack for the technology to produce wind turbines, solar cells and more efficient cars, we do lack the "technologies" of wisdom, compassion, universal justice and respect for all life. This is the side of the equation we need to solve if we are to re-balance the role of humanity in the world.
Fortunately these technologies exist, though they are not widely known or valued in our industrial world. They have strong roots in Buddhist culture, in the burgeoning ecological movement, in the growing ranks of deep spiritual thinkers and among those who help create communities based on those values. It is up to each of us to seek out and join this movement as it spreads through our world, adding our individual sparks of awareness and compassion to the tide as it moves past.
Of course, anyone who sees humanity and our contextual reality in materialistic terms will not see the problem as I do, and will have a different sense of what the solution ought to be. That's a good thing: the broader our probability envelope remains, the more chances we will have for a harmonious actuality when the wave breaks and one of those possible futures becomes our living present.
With great love,