Ethics and Ecology
A paper delivered to the
Harvard Seminar on Environmental Values
Harvard University, April 9, 1996
Here are some highlights, but do read the whole piece as it contains great concepts.
“We have always had difficulty in accepting the human as an integral component of the total earth community. We see ourselves as a transcendent mode of being. Only humans have rights. All other earthly beings are instruments to be used or resources to be exploited. Now after centuries of plundering the earth for our own advantage, we begin to reflect on who we are and what has happened both to the planet and to ourselves…….
….. The ecological community is not subordinate to the human community. Nor is the ecological imperative derivative from human ethics. Rather our human ethics is derivative from the ecological imperative. The basic ethical norm is the well-being of the comprehensive community, and the attainment of human well-being within this comprehensive community. The Earth is not part of the Human Story, the human story is part of the Earth Story…..
…. What is demanded of us now is to change attitudes that are so deeply bound into our basic cultural patterns that they seem to us as an imperative of the very nature of our being, a dictate of our genetic coding as a species. In clinical language we are into a deep cultural pathology. We can no longer trust our cultural guidance in any comprehensive manner. In this situation we must return to our genetic structure and rethink who we are, where we fit into the community of existence and what our proper role might be within this community. …..
… Perhaps a new revelatory experience is taking place, an experience wherein human consciousness awakens to the grandeur and sacred quality of the earth process. Humanity has not participated in such a vision since shamanic times, but in such a renewal lies our hope for the future for ourselves and for the entire planet. “