I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change, I thought that with thirty years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy…and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation, and we scientists don’t know how to do that.
~ Gus Speth
The entrancement with industrial civilization…must be considered as a profound cultural disorientation. It can be dealt with only by a corresponding deep cultural therapy.
…At such a moment a new revelatory experience is needed, an experience wherein human consciousness awakens to the grandeur and sacred quality of the Earth process. This awakening is our human participation in the dream of the Earth….We probably have not had such participation in the dream of the Earth since earlier shamanic times, but therein lies our hope for the future for ourselves and for the entire Earth community.
~ Thomas Berry
He had many strange sights to keep him cheerful or to make him sad. I asked him had he ever seen the faeries, and got the reply, ‘Am I not annoyed with them?’ I asked too if he had ever seen the banshee. ‘I have seen it,’ he said, ‘down there by the water, batting the river with its hands.’
~ W. B. Yeats, The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore
Slowly, spending more and more time outside, focusing on the wisdom of my senses rather than on what was going on inside my head, I began to weave myself back into the fabric of the Earth.
~ Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted
remember who you are
it is the whole earth
~ Joy Harjo, excerpted from “The Blanket Around Her”
love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
~ e. e. cummings
Don’t forget love;
it will bring all the madness you need
to unfurl yourself across
Beware, O wanderer, the road is walking too.
~ Jim Harrison, from After Ikkyū and Other Poems (Shambhala, 1996)
Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.
~ Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor
We’re all — trees, humans, insects, birds, bacteria — pluralities. Life is embodied network. These living networks are not places of omnibenevolent Oneness. Instead, they are where ecological and evolutionary tensions between cooperation and conflict are negotiated and resolved. These struggles often result not in the evolution of stronger, more disconnected selves but in the dissolution of the self into relationship.
Because life is network, there is no “nature” or “environment,” separate and apart from humans. We are part of the community of life, composed of relationships with “others,” so the human/nature duality that lives near the heart of many philosophies is, from a biological perspective, illusory. We are not, in the words of the folk hymn, wayfaring strangers traveling through this world.
Nor are we the estranged creatures of Wordsworth’s lyrical ballads, fallen out of Nature into a “stagnant pool” of artifice where we misshape “the beauteous forms of things.” Our bodies and minds, our “Science and Art,” are as natural and wild as they ever were.
We cannot step outside life’s songs. This music made us; it is our nature.
—David George Haskell