Media Democracy

Exodus

When humans traded log cabins for laptops and huts for strata housing, they may have lost more than they gained.
Death of Nature

Our entire evolutionary span is a result of our ability to work with and within natural systems and patterns. Until recently, humans have necessarily fostered an intimate relationship with other forms of life. So what happens to us as human beings when we remove an essential part of our relationship with existence? What happens to our ability to cope when we break away from nature?

Psychically, the human/nature relationship started to crack when Judeo-Christian stories overtook pagan creation myths. Instead of being created from nature, humans came to believe they alone were created in the image of God. This gave them the freedom to exploit nature without recognizing its value beyond human use. Nothing on Earth but humanity was sacred.

But, back then, humans still lived within nature, still tended the soil. The physical break is happening now as populations become more urbanized and rural communities continue to become obsolete. Now nature is something that is out there, something to go and see – a family vacation destination. Can our brains really handle this?

Another trend is happening, simultaneously: The worldwide rise of anxiety, despair, self-harm and general malaise. Children as young as three are diagnosed with depression. Could this have something to do with the loss of nature in our lives?

Ecopsychology is an expanding area of therapy where nature and a healthy mind are inseparable. Three years ago, Vivienne Grace was living in Vancouver when she found herself overwhelmed by the tragedies she saw happening in the world, and it was taking a toll on her mental health. But she found a new perspective on life when she started to reconnect to the seasons, to lunar cycles, to food systems.

She no longer shoulders the weight of the world's problems. "The world will be fine on its own," she said, "it's our own lives that we need to get back into balance." For Grace, balance means nurturing a spirituality that comes from honing a relationship with nature. For her, you can't have one without the other. "Nature is spirituality," she said.

Spirituality cannot be gleaned from countless hours in front of the TV and computer. A life spent indoors cannot create a completely healthy person. The World Health Organization predicts that mental illness will be the leading cause of death and disability by 2020, second only to heart disease. The world and all of its occupants need to heal.

The breakdown of our mental health is partly because of selective ingratitude. We are happy to gain material things while we ignore the fact that they are made from natural resources. And it's ignorant to continue blindly devouring the planet's systems without expecting consequences.

The world is not here because of us, we are here because of it. Life won't end if humanity does. But we have the capacity to thrive for a long time if we can respect the role nature plays in keeping our minds and bodies wholesome.

Photo: Jon Stich, The Lovely Idea.

44 comments on the article “Exodus”

Displaying 31 - 40 of 44

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Justin

Pamela had it right: the basic precept of early ("radical", even) Christianity is that the human being is a caretaker, or "steward" of the natural world. We were endowed with conscience, intelligence, and self-awareness in order to properly care for and preserve the wondrous proliferation of species on this planet earth, not to conquer and diminish. I smell bias, but it isn't a well-founded, well-thought-out bias. I too am sick and tired of hegemony masquerading as spirituality, but please don't mistake a beneficent, simplistic theology for a perverted permutation of modern religion. Otherwise, well said.

Justin

Pamela had it right: the basic precept of early ("radical", even) Christianity is that the human being is a caretaker, or "steward" of the natural world. We were endowed with conscience, intelligence, and self-awareness in order to properly care for and preserve the wondrous proliferation of species on this planet earth, not to conquer and diminish. I smell bias, but it isn't a well-founded, well-thought-out bias. I too am sick and tired of hegemony masquerading as spirituality, but please don't mistake a beneficent, simplistic theology for a perverted permutation of modern religion. Otherwise, well said.

Void

Is this a joke?
“The world will be fine on its own,” that is unless you are a river dolphin, an Orangutan, a polar bear, or any of the thousands of species of living organisms that have already; or, will be going extinct in the coming years. The world is not fine, and this is not a psychological issue, it is a behavioral issue. The ecological catastrophe facing the world is the result of human activities, not human moods or emotions.

This is another example of the domestication of politics. We have abandoned any hope to actualize real change in the external world, just as Christianity removed the political from the external world and internalized it as care of the soul, we rename it “the self” and have our new privatized activism, no need to hold public officials under the gun, the new activism takes the form of a trip to the mall, where political action and consumption have fully merged under the title “consumer activism,” rather than calculating how many joules of energy your employer is wasting or what industries your retirement fund is invested in, people will go buy a new hybrid vehicle or a “low-flow” toilet when they could’ve just thrown a brick in the water tank of their old toilet or went for a ride on an old bicycle.

The condition of the world should make us feel sick and exhausted; we are all responsible for it. Human over-population is the fountainhead for the piss poor condition of the environment; and yet we keep on reproducing. We rationalize this insane behavior by tapping into out individual vanity using the excuse that “it’s not the quantity of people… it’s the quality,” but don’t fool your self… it’s the quantity.

There is no longer a “natural” world, just untapped resources. There is more environmental destruction going on today than ever before in the history of humankind, and there is no evidence whatsoever that it is going to slow down, in fact it is going to accelerate. This new corporate sponsored environmental movement is not for the benefit of the environment it is for the preservation of capitalism. At a time when our public lands and natural resources are being handed over to private corporations at an unprecedented rate people honestly believe guerilla gardening and reconnecting with the seasons are a solution… what a joke.

“Selective ingratitude” is not responsible for the breakdown of our mental health. Capitalism is fueled by dissatisfaction and emptiness, but one of capitalisms greatest tricks is convincing us that if our preferences aren’t being met, we are the ones to blame, because the market provides all. But teeth whiteners and garbage disposal units are no substitute for freedom, and health is not something given by technocratic authorities dispensing pills.

Don’t listen to this gibberish. These people are trying to remove our political agency. The world will not be fine on its own, extinction is a reality, and there is plenty that we can do about it that has nothing to do with this self obsessed notion of happiness.
.

Void

Is this a joke?
“The world will be fine on its own,” that is unless you are a river dolphin, an Orangutan, a polar bear, or any of the thousands of species of living organisms that have already; or, will be going extinct in the coming years. The world is not fine, and this is not a psychological issue, it is a behavioral issue. The ecological catastrophe facing the world is the result of human activities, not human moods or emotions.

This is another example of the domestication of politics. We have abandoned any hope to actualize real change in the external world, just as Christianity removed the political from the external world and internalized it as care of the soul, we rename it “the self” and have our new privatized activism, no need to hold public officials under the gun, the new activism takes the form of a trip to the mall, where political action and consumption have fully merged under the title “consumer activism,” rather than calculating how many joules of energy your employer is wasting or what industries your retirement fund is invested in, people will go buy a new hybrid vehicle or a “low-flow” toilet when they could’ve just thrown a brick in the water tank of their old toilet or went for a ride on an old bicycle.

The condition of the world should make us feel sick and exhausted; we are all responsible for it. Human over-population is the fountainhead for the piss poor condition of the environment; and yet we keep on reproducing. We rationalize this insane behavior by tapping into out individual vanity using the excuse that “it’s not the quantity of people… it’s the quality,” but don’t fool your self… it’s the quantity.

There is no longer a “natural” world, just untapped resources. There is more environmental destruction going on today than ever before in the history of humankind, and there is no evidence whatsoever that it is going to slow down, in fact it is going to accelerate. This new corporate sponsored environmental movement is not for the benefit of the environment it is for the preservation of capitalism. At a time when our public lands and natural resources are being handed over to private corporations at an unprecedented rate people honestly believe guerilla gardening and reconnecting with the seasons are a solution… what a joke.

“Selective ingratitude” is not responsible for the breakdown of our mental health. Capitalism is fueled by dissatisfaction and emptiness, but one of capitalisms greatest tricks is convincing us that if our preferences aren’t being met, we are the ones to blame, because the market provides all. But teeth whiteners and garbage disposal units are no substitute for freedom, and health is not something given by technocratic authorities dispensing pills.

Don’t listen to this gibberish. These people are trying to remove our political agency. The world will not be fine on its own, extinction is a reality, and there is plenty that we can do about it that has nothing to do with this self obsessed notion of happiness.
.

Lucidreama

Void wrote:

"The world is not fine, and this is not a psychological issue, it is a behavioral issue. The ecological catastrophe facing the world is the result of human activities, not human moods or emotions."

Void, can you please explain to me how human behaviour can be separated from human psychology? How any activity can even take place if not driven by human emotions? Emotion literally means 'to move', and it is our beliefs that are reinforced by our emotions, and our emotions reinforced by our beliefs, that drive our behaviour.

The problems we face today are DEEPLY psychological, and therefore spiritual. The 'external' world in which we find ourselves directly reflects the state of our collective 'internal' worlds. Every problem we as a 'civilization', and our fellow living beings, face can be traced back to the human psyche and its emotions. It is the fact that dichotomize everything that allows us to destroy it.

If we don't connect with nature how can we expect to care for it? And the only way we can connect with nature is to realise that we ARE nature; we emerged from it and we are one with it, and it can never be any other way. It is the fact that we see ourselves as separate that allows us to live out of balance with it. We try to escape the limits that nature has imposed upon us - ultimately the FEAR (look, an emotion!) of death - by attempting to gain more and more control over our environment, through technology, political and economic systems, and creating and (almost) endless mountain of meaningless material things, all at the expense of that upon which we depend. Whatever we control we destroy.

The only way to truly overcome the problems we face today is to overcome the negative emotions that are tied so closely with our false perceptions of this reality in which we live. We need to learn to let go of our need to control everything and to learn to live in balance and harmony, and the only way we can do this is to calm the turbulent inner seas that are our emotions.

However, I do agree with you that the world is not fine on its own, and to live simply for our own personal happiness, whilst the world goes to pot, is simply not acceptable. This is merely a display of the apathetic conditioning encouraged by consumerist capitalism. This lady has not freed herself from anything - she's given up in the face of her pain and simply gone back to dreamland. If she really had connected with nature then the suffering that Gaia faces today would have impressed upon here all the more, and she would have been more motivated to do something about it.

Lucidreama

Void wrote:

"The world is not fine, and this is not a psychological issue, it is a behavioral issue. The ecological catastrophe facing the world is the result of human activities, not human moods or emotions."

Void, can you please explain to me how human behaviour can be separated from human psychology? How any activity can even take place if not driven by human emotions? Emotion literally means 'to move', and it is our beliefs that are reinforced by our emotions, and our emotions reinforced by our beliefs, that drive our behaviour.

The problems we face today are DEEPLY psychological, and therefore spiritual. The 'external' world in which we find ourselves directly reflects the state of our collective 'internal' worlds. Every problem we as a 'civilization', and our fellow living beings, face can be traced back to the human psyche and its emotions. It is the fact that dichotomize everything that allows us to destroy it.

If we don't connect with nature how can we expect to care for it? And the only way we can connect with nature is to realise that we ARE nature; we emerged from it and we are one with it, and it can never be any other way. It is the fact that we see ourselves as separate that allows us to live out of balance with it. We try to escape the limits that nature has imposed upon us - ultimately the FEAR (look, an emotion!) of death - by attempting to gain more and more control over our environment, through technology, political and economic systems, and creating and (almost) endless mountain of meaningless material things, all at the expense of that upon which we depend. Whatever we control we destroy.

The only way to truly overcome the problems we face today is to overcome the negative emotions that are tied so closely with our false perceptions of this reality in which we live. We need to learn to let go of our need to control everything and to learn to live in balance and harmony, and the only way we can do this is to calm the turbulent inner seas that are our emotions.

However, I do agree with you that the world is not fine on its own, and to live simply for our own personal happiness, whilst the world goes to pot, is simply not acceptable. This is merely a display of the apathetic conditioning encouraged by consumerist capitalism. This lady has not freed herself from anything - she's given up in the face of her pain and simply gone back to dreamland. If she really had connected with nature then the suffering that Gaia faces today would have impressed upon here all the more, and she would have been more motivated to do something about it.

Molly

Having grown up in both Montana and Wyoming and then moved to the city, I often feel very disconnected from nature even if I visit parks often. There is something about standing on a mountain feeling that you are far away from civilization....that I miss very deeply. Sometimes I feel the city is a little biosphere and I can't escape. You can't look up and see the wide expanse of the sky, only buildings that obstruct your view. You are forced to constantly hear noise; there is nowhere to be surrounded by only silence. And soon I fear we'll lose the capacity to even escape. You'll have to go to Antarctica just to get away.....

Molly

Having grown up in both Montana and Wyoming and then moved to the city, I often feel very disconnected from nature even if I visit parks often. There is something about standing on a mountain feeling that you are far away from civilization....that I miss very deeply. Sometimes I feel the city is a little biosphere and I can't escape. You can't look up and see the wide expanse of the sky, only buildings that obstruct your view. You are forced to constantly hear noise; there is nowhere to be surrounded by only silence. And soon I fear we'll lose the capacity to even escape. You'll have to go to Antarctica just to get away.....

Monday

Today I watched the movie "The Shawshank Redemption", and I feel that we have to go through life here and there to know what is precious to ourself before we escape. Just join it, then refuse it or save it.

Monday

Today I watched the movie "The Shawshank Redemption", and I feel that we have to go through life here and there to know what is precious to ourself before we escape. Just join it, then refuse it or save it.

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