Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Environment as Religion

I've always enjoyed responding when asked, 'Are you religious?' that I believe in disbelief.
Humans have a long history of adopting varyious beliefs,then factions, then forming armies and going about trying to wipe each other out. Nothing's changed. We haven't evolved, grown up, changed. We're still hard at it. 

Once an idea has been formed human nature steps in and we feel the need to form rules, dogma, rules, and an almost competitive nature to our belief and then, no matter what the original concept, it all falls apart. Perhaps better not to name something up right from the word go.

Costa Georgiadis (stolen without any permission from ABC)
However, having said that  more and more often I meet up with evangelistic environmentalists who, when I listen to them, appear to be almost religious in their belief. (I've met Costa Georgiadis - if that man's not a disciple of an environmental God then no one is) And why not? Without the environment we wouldn't exist, we are made from accumulated materials derived from earth, and we return to it when we die. It provides us with food, succour, in fact it provides us with the ability to live lives of Kings.  However unwisely. We've become the greedy child who always wants more. 

Yet we choose to worship in shopping malls and supermarkets and travel in vehicles from which we are safely contained from the environment, only a distant witness to our asphalt nations.

If this was a parent/child relationship we'd be keeping the environment up all night and breast feeding till well past our teens. I won't even draw the comparison on where we defecate in this picture. It's not pretty.

Like any good parent at times it's good to allow our children to learn from the consequences of their actions, to sit back and wait and hope we learn from banging our thumb with a hammer, touching a hot stove or overusing resources and feeding back systemic poisons into a finely balanced system.

So here we are, on the brink, or already falling, about to wake up and realise that our deference to the great God Environment has been less than ideal. We've behaved poorly and it's now time to clean up the mess. If we can. The an environment 'God' certainly can, but it's going to take millions of years to do so, with or without us.
The environment as God isn't a new concept.

Pantheism: The belief that all things are aspects of a single god or spirituality, and that this god cannot be separated from the physical world. Pantheists believe that nature should be experienced with awe, and generally reject the idea of a personal God separate from the natural world.
Nature, the greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
So how do we worship the Great God of  Environment?

We take our children to its church, under the great vault of its sky, we teach them to revere it, to understand what we can of its workings, how it sustains us, the ways in which we support it in doing so. We do what we can at home, but we also fight for it, whether that's with the pen (letters, petitions), or by our actions (consumer abstinence of products right through to active demonstrations).
The only 'rules' to this religion are share resources fairly and equitably and to a level that sustains us and the earth without spoiling us and doing it as a shared quest.

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