Tackling Large Problems

Large problems can be daunting, and even once they are fully comprehended, the scope of required action filtered through the imagination may sustain inaction. Sometimes there is a certain comfort in apathy; we do not desire to commit ourselves emotionally to an uncertain outcome. Nor does the ego enjoy feelings of helplessness where one’s activity appears to be ineffectual or inconsequential. There are often easier thoughts to attend and the mind has a fickle nature.Tidal Wave

The way we live on this planet and feed off its resources is unsustainable. This is a large problem. But let us not stand in a stupor, after all, to quote system’s theorist Ervin László, “Today’s economic, social and technological environment is our own creation, and only the creativity of our mind – our culture, spirit and consciousness – could enable us to cope with it. Genuine creativity does not remain paralyzed when faced with unusual and unexpected problems but confronts them openly, without prejudice. Cultivating it is a precondition of finding our way toward a globally interconnected society in which individuals, enterprises, states, and the whole family of peoples and nations could live together peacefully, cooperatively, and with mutual benefit.”

We are connected with the state of

We are connected to the state of the planet – let us not remain paralyzed

To put it simply, what we see about us we created, and we have it within us to create something different. This cognition will take some existential responsibility, but it is only in working together that significantly different creations can occur. This does not deny individual rebellious action against the status quo, but leadership is needed and especially leadership that can harness the imagination of many.ficus

To return to the root is often necessary in clarifying problems. This I see as our relationship with nature and our relationship with ourselves. This does not need to be in an exercise in navel-gazing; first can come action, and with action we can re-awaken our genetic imperative that can provide our species with its forgotten context.

With Teratrees, action will take the form of planting a tree and/or supporting those who do, and to try and influence these dynamics through economics.

To the Root of it

With every perspective and experience there is a background story, an implicit context that we have constructed which often lies quietly in our consciousness. This context is not created upon birth, but woven with different strands gathered from our schooling and universities, our parents and friends, and inherited cultural systems of thought. It is this conception that provides us with a reference point in the universe and often dictates our course of action and our response to events. It is this conception which is at the heart of our relationship with what we see around us.

The deep ecologist Thomas Berry (1914 – 2009)

We owe acknowledgement to Thomas Berry, a Catholic priest and deep ecologist, for shining light on this context and how it influences our relationship with the living world. It was he who noted that seeking guidance to solve the current environmental crisis from our cultural and religious systems was problematic, as they were part of the original cause of the crisis. It was also he who said that we should look at our educational systems and examine what relationship with the earth is implicit in our textbooks and lectures, and question who we think we are and our place in the cosmos.

With a life dedicated to study and understanding this question, Berry argued that our rational, industrial society along with its amazing scientific insight, has broken the primary law of the universe; that being of integrity, and that every component member of the universe should be integral with every other member of the universe. Moreover, the value of the universe is expression shown by its various forms and members of that community, not just by one. While our self-awareness is significant in the context of the planet, as also noted by Teilhard de Chardin, it is our assumption of our primary position in the universe and as Berry phrases it, our “industrial coding” that arose in Western society that poses a threat to life on this planet and therefore, our own.

The Andromeda galaxy, one of the at least 100 billion galaxies in the universe

 We are losing 10 000 species a year (E. O. Wilson) and as Berry notes via rainforest specialist Norman Myers, this “impending extinction spasm” is likely to produce the “greatest single setback to life’s abundance and diversity since the first flickerings of life almost four billion years ago”. This is significant.

What is our relationship with other living things on this planet?

Berry suggests that we need to go beyond any transformation of our contemporary culture. He argues we should go back to our genetic imperative, the source of our culture. It is this genetic coding that gives our species their context and carries the deeper spontaneities of the development of our cultural codings. Here, our genes are considered to be more than a physical determination of our being, but rather “our richest psychic endowment, our guiding and inspiring force…”.  Our genes connect us with the Earth and the universe, with nature and all other species, and provides us with the “shamanic dimension of the psyche”. This paves the way for a non-rational experience of life and the re-enchantment of our perception of other living things, along with greater sensitivity. This enhanced connection with life is the vaccine for our current disease of complacency.