I’ve been thinking about the past and its frequently unconscious influence on the present. Some years ago, I wrote a piece about how I was introduced to ecology by a 60’s dialogue on TV between Theologian Paul Tillich and Landscape architect Ian McHarg. At the time I was well read about Tillich but had never heard of McHarg or the concept of ecology and the integration of nature into towns and cities in a way that was sustainable and harmonious. I was deeply impressed. For a long time, I had been mourning the loss of so much beautiful countryside by badly planned and destructive real estate development. It was clearly a war on nature, as if we could live suspended in space.
This is an entry in Wikipedia about McHarg:
In 1971 McHarg delivered a speech at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Portland, Oregon, called "Man: Planetary Disease". In the speech he asserted that, due to the views of man and nature that have infiltrated all of western culture, people are not guaranteed survival. Of man, McHarg said, "He treats the world as a storehouse existing for his delectation; he plunders, rapes, poisons, and kills this living system, the biosphere, in ignorance of its workings and its fundamental value." To this end man is a "planetary disease", who has lived with no regard for nature. He discusses how in the Judeo-Christian traditions; the Bible says that man is to have dominion over the earth. McHarg says that for man to survive, this idea must be taken as an allegory only, and not as literally true. Lest this statement be construed as anti-religion, he cites Paul Tillich (Protestantism), Gustav Weigel (Catholicism), and Abram Heschel (Judaism) as noted religious scholars who are also in agreement with him on this point. Wikipedia
Of course, dominion has come to mean psychopathic disregard and exploitation and not a loving protection and nurturance of the earth. Humanity has come to a state in which he (its more often he) no longer notices that he is a product of nature. Like a plant or animal that is infected by a virus or a genetic defect, humanity is turning on itself and literally consuming its own life support system more rapidly than it can be replaced. The rhythm is gone from the song, and chaotic noise replaces it.
Emperors were once caretakers of their subjects and then became demigods but not gods in the sense of foundation, care, repair and oversight. They began to consume their subjects and remove the less tasty morsels to places of misery and despair. Instead of being stewards they became exploiters.
The Capitalistic system in its present form is using and abusing everything. Saying this in stark words terrifies the public who have been fed the propaganda for two centuries that Capitalism creates an environment that allows the natural selection of superior products and methods of social change. This has resulted in what sometimes seems like economic anarchy. The clever and self-serving but myopic aggressors’ triumph over everyone else, but not for long because like all selfish and self-serving concepts, the product of such a regime is fatally toxic to life itself. False forms of socialism are even more exploitative. For short term gain there is long term devastation. Nineteenth century ideas of progress are literally destroying the world, and currently, nobody has a workable solution. However, I think nature may overturn the regimes before we get the problem sorted.
We may be cast back to the most basic survival mode and in fact the human species will again survive perhaps in the few members who have changed very little over the past 60,000 thousand years. I know that the esoteric teachings and spiritual warnings are considered pure fiction by the elite intellects and rulers of our sad planet who consider these stories to be pure hogwash, but such experts have been proven to be vainglorious and closed minded many, many times in the past. Each generation of these ‘rulers’ of social philosophy are dis-proven by the upcoming generation but that never stops them from regarding their doctrines to be solid truth. In fact, people outside a few select scholars and thinkers learn almost nothing from history and even less from prehistory. I suspect, that discoveries will be made that take our human origins further and further into the past. The so-called myth of Atlantis and even Lemuria may turn out to be factual. Archeology doesn’t like to question its theories and there will be resistance for a long time, but eventually evidence will surface about buried (no pun intended) and sunken societies of the past. However, even if it was an allegorical story, it will be true not only of the past but a warning about human hubris for the future.
McHarg was a Scot, I’ve read a heavy drinker but a poetic soul with a love of beauty and the earth. Unfortunately, those who come from this personality type sometimes cope with this world by trying to deaden the pain with mind altering substances. Alan Watts was another such being and he is also significant in laying the track for journeys beyond the traditional governance of the state and church. It seems that this must be done on a regular basis and takes many runs before it penetrates the dense outer coating of the public mind. Nowadays, there is so much information floating on the airwaves that one must have some idea of what to search for. Trivia, commercials, thousands (maybe millions) of YouTube videos of everything imaginable and one must either be lucky or know what to look for to tie the current issues and trends to their source.
Our habits of learning are being channeled into diverse and separate groups by the internet. Although it is an amazing source of unending viewpoints, it doesn’t invite comparative thinking. Thus, most people look for those videos and Facebook friends that support and augment their predefined point of view. Other sources might as well be hidden in arcane secret societies or concealed by ignorance. Too much information is virtually the same as very little. My source of hope is that the presently invisible but available revelations that light the way to social progress are typically unseen and unheard until the familiar social traditions break down. Change seldom comes until survival requires it.