Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Ethical Being Has A Choice

As an ethical being I make choices based on instinct as well as critical thinking that displaces myself (puts me in the shoes of others). Do I stand up for equal pay and equal rights, do I alter my perspective to gain empathy (and power) to see someone else's situation and how they might feel or suffer? How can we do this with other species? We do it with pets. We do it through touch, sight, and sound -- yet we continue to sequester ourselves from wildness and even the echo of wildness. We build housing subdivisions and cover perceived empty spaces with lawn, then douse those lawns with weed & feed while hiring companies to spray; we do this at schools, churches, business, roadsides, and parks. We are covered, soaked in, and made of toxic chemicals we've added to the environment. Our landscapes hum during every hour of daylight for up to eight months a year with sound and air pollution as we cast dominion over earth, helping ourselves lose empathy by seldom seeing more than a robin or a swallowtail. Right now the tv is poisoned with commercials for achieving the perfect green lawn -- a place not suited for children or pets, a place devoid of creating critical thinking or creative engagement so it stunts social and personal development. 

As an ethical being I continually reframe my perspective to include more of the animate, living world as I experience it -- but I have to experience it. What happens when wildness is absent from our daily lives? We perceive our lives as less fulfilling, our jobs as more cumbersome, our homes as having less value. When wildness is absent it takes longer to recover from illness, test scores drop at schools, and we become narrow-minded individuals who grow comfortable with complacence, never knowing what's absent. Kids growing up today see 35% fewer butterflies than their parents did 40 years ago and 25% fewer mammals, birds, and amphibians. 

As an ethical being I see that plastic floating in the oceans now equals the weight of every living human on the planet. I see coral bleaching as oceans warm, reducing biodiversity while fisheries collapse and the ability of ocean currents to cool our planet diminish. I see half of North American bird species set to be extinct by century's end. I see that we have so altered the world nothing is left untouched by us, and the echo of that realization is as much a haunting indictment of deep emotional power as it is an opportunity for great empowerment. If we can so negatively recreate the world, we can so positively work to help it heal. 

As an ethical being I make choices every day that directly impact the world around me, and that also subconsciously accrue in my mind and heart just like pesticides and plastic fragments. The more I expose myself to the reality of my actions the more I take control of my life. I am a wild creature. I am unique in the level of evolution I've attained to be able to think on multiple levels at once, to consider emotional and physical variables in the same thought, to weigh action and reaction, and to form and reform an ethical response that guides my belief system grounded in the world I perceive, study, deeply feel, and ultimately honor.

As an ethical being I have infinite power to be more than my biology and to evolve beyond what's given to me by my culture. As an ethical being I have freedom to experience wildness as the reason I exist. As an ethical being I make a difference in my home landscape, connecting birds and butterflies to the larger world beyond the fence, and in turn, waking myself and my species to an equality that transcends us but also begins with us. 


Brian T said...

The tenaciously clinging culture of human exceptionalism is at the heart of our broken ability to deal with the world around us. The need to build an imaginary wall around ourselves and declare our superiority readily translates to distaste and fear of other species that have not been subjugated.

I used to think that some people benefited from being surrounded by wildness and for others it didn't matter. Now I think that all benefit but only some realize it.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Boom! I think that wall must be evolutionary, but because of our ability to alter the world (industrialism or not) our gets supercharged. And to even think of putting a hole in the wall, mentioning the reasons to do it, is anti human, anti freedom, anti whatever. We need heavy does of nature at every street corner (more than street trees, more than potted annuals).