World Views — God, Me, Environment

When the resources are gone....

Terry Tempest Williams is a favorite writer of mine, not only because she writes of the environment, the living and physical world we live in, but because the God-view that is woven through her writing is familiar to me, close to my own. Williams talks of the consciousness of being in the world in an article in the online The Progressive.  She then compares that consciousness to the “world view” held by many scornful of  environmentalism, specifically naming current GOP candidates Santorum, Gingrich and Romney. Williams quotes Santorum:

Consider Rick Santorum’s recent comments to Bob Schieffer on Face The Nation, when he said Barack Obama’s “world view” is different than that of most Americans. The day before, Santorum had said that the President believes in “some phony ideal, some phony theology . . . not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.”

When Schieffer asked him to clarify his statements, Santorum said that he was referencing not the President’s faith but environmentalism.

“Well, I was talking about the radical environmentalists,” he said. “That’s what I was talking about: Energy, this idea that man is here to serve the Earth, as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the Earth. . . . I don’t believe that that’s what we’re here to do.”

“The Earth is not the objective,” Santorum said. “Man is the objective. I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside-down.”

The most frightening thing about Santorum’s comments are that so many people have the same world view.   Many seem to have no consciousness of the reciprocity, the symbiosis in our existence in this world.   We have become parasites of the highest order, sucking the life out of all that has been supporting us.

Williams includes this from Gregory Bateson (1904-1980), an anthropologist who saw human beings as part of a system:

If you put God outside and set him vis-à-vis his creation and if you have the idea that you are created in his image, you will logically and naturally see yourself as outside and against the things around you. And as you arrogate all mind to yourself, you will see the world around you as mindless and therefore not entitled to moral or ethical consideration. The environment will seem to be yours to exploit. Your survival unit will be you and your folks . . . against the environment of other social units, other races, and the brutes and vegetables. If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic byproducts of your own hate, or, simply, of over-population and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.

I cannot say it better so will simply repeat Bateson’s pronouncement while thanking Terry Tempest Williams for her essay on the need for consciousness.

Life undisturbed

If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic byproducts of your own hate, or, simply, of over-population and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.

“It’s a new dawn… It’s a new day…” It’s Nirvana Day

“It’s a new dawn… It’s a new day… It’s a new life for me… And I’m feeling good.”
from “Feeling Good,” Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricuse

Did you know that February 15th is noted as the day Buddha achieved Nirvana by separating from his mortal body (usually called ‘death’)? According to Wikipedia, this is a day for readings and meditation on one’s own death and the death of loved ones.

This is especially timely for me personally as my good friend and boss has been gently easing the passing of his dear mother. He talks of her transitioning between the physical and spiritual spheres and the enlightenment that she is sharing with family around her. This is a beautiful, enriching and comforting experience for them.

In addition, my own eighty-three year old mother lapsed into a near-coma state Sunday, no food or water intake, fever, unable to stand, largely incoherent — a frightening experience. We nursed her throughout the day but by evening we called 911 to send an ambulance. She was given IV fluids and antibiotic and almost immediately became more alert. The test-based diagnosis of kidney infection was later confirmed and, three days later, she is home again.

Lesson learned from this experience:

  1. Prepare now; you never know (sounds trite and clicheish but it’s true).
  2. Know all medications and have documentation of the schedule and history.
  3. Realize that unless your loved one is a small child you will not be able to lift, carry, maneuver them.  They will have bathroom and clothing needs in addition to simply shifting them in bed for comfort and one average person alone cannot do this.  My stepfather and I together could not lift or transport my mother and she weighs 160 lb., certainly not obese.
  4. Don’t be afraid to call the doctor or 911 for an ambulance.

My mother purchased a long-term care plan that includes assisted living.  I have resisted this move for several months even though she (they) have brought it up occasionally, but I think it is time to seriously consider the move.  I cannot take care of my mother the way she needs.   That may sound cold and heartless for many, but it’s the truth.  I am not strong enough physically, am still low on energy from my own bout with breast cancer and treatments.  My stepfather is eighty-five and has plenty of his own physical (heart) problems.  If either of them falls, that’s it, they’re down.

We have the comfort of knowing that she has this plan available, many do not.  Unfortunately, one of the first things dropped from Obama’s Health Care Plan under extreme pressure from congressional Republicans was the long-term care provision.  This puts many, many people in the position of not being able to care for their aging parents in need without either giving up a needed job or spending their own retirement savings in the process.  Either way, society in general loses.

Death comes to us all, it’s part of life itself.  One step, then another….


Happy Darwin Day!

HT to Mother Nature Network

Just a couple of thoughts about all of this:
1. Science is not something you believe in; science is proven, tested fact.
2. Addressing what some view as a religion/science conflict: there is no conflict; Science answers the how, religion answers the why, two different questions asked of creation. If religion is not part of your life, there is no conflict; if religion is part of your life, again, there is no conflict. The conflict only comes when you try to make an explanation answer the wrong question.

Thank you Carl Sagan for this excellent (and short) description of the process of evolution.