Our Responsibility for the Earth
"The present is the soil for the future. The rising generation builds on the old... We all bear responsibility not only for ourselves but for others and for the object on loan of our living space... In blind feasibility mania and overbearing arrogance as a result of partial scientific knowledge, the person increasingly allows these truths to disappear from view. By orienting himself in financial or material interests, he has largely lost sense for the whole."
Our Responsibility for the Earth
New Orientations in Culture and Politics
On the Meaning and Challenges of Human Existence
By Wolfgang Fischer
[This essay originally published in: Eamanzipation Humanum, 2002 is translated abridged from the German on the World Wide Web, http://vvhome.de/global/deutsch/verantworten.htm.]
Plea for a nature-friendly civilization not based on violence and money
Environmental crisis and war, criminality in the economy and politics, global actions of the industrial giants and social collapse of ever wider sectors of the population, religious interpretations recalling relapse in the Middle Ages - all these phenomena of modern life hardly point to a good future. Consciously false information with which the political and economic establishment veils its dubious goals reveals deficient respect for the sovereignty of people. Holding to practical necessities or constraints has precedence over working out just solutions. The effect of our way of life on the environment is denied. The status quo is militantly defended against new ideas - all this hinders the development of peaceful cooperation on our earth.
Are we handed over to this development or are there alternatives?
Is hope possible?
To approach a solution of problems threatening life on the earth, we must get things straight about open questions and present abuses. The unbiased knowledge of a community of life can motivate us to public action for universal justice that judges social systems and worldviews.
1) The presupposition for developing consciousness and deeper understanding of life and world connections is open communication and generally accessible information free from dogmatic or ideological fetters. Responsibility grows through deep understanding on the basis of lifelong experience and learning. All competition serves the optimization of sociability in the eco- and social system of the earth. Solidarity encourages the growth of motivation and joy in life. Mania and fear disappear. An unbiased worldview fosters political action in the sense of the whole world. The developed human spirit creates the material and emotional conditions for public welfare and peace. Authenticity overcomes estrangement and surrogate existence. Truth makes us free.
2) Social oppositions dissolve where the consciousness prevails that the earth represents our common base of life. By preserving the ecological connections, the common use of the worldwide raw materials and energy supplies serves the development of the global society. Yields could benefit disadvantaged areas. Capital, land and knowledge serve people in creating a sustainable society.
3) Comprehensive social justice and ecological compatibility are the prerequisites for our survival.
Earthy, oceans and continents, country-sides, rivers and lakes, plants, animals and people - all belong together as elements of the great processes and connections of the biosphere. Everything is a natural object on loan, a sheltering infrastructure of global life to be nurtured. The existence of all parts of the living space is interdependent. Every part contributes to the functioning of the whole.
The present is the soil for the future. The rising generation builds on the old. False developments - often mistaken as progress - are borne through the time of history together with achievements and their consequences. Thus every generation is jointly responsible for the next. We all bear responsibility not only for ourselves but for others and for the object on loan of our living space.
For more than three billion years, evolution unfolded the life of single-cell creatures, plants, animals and people. The environment changes in mutual relations parallel to that development. Life and the environment influence one another in a dynamic adaptation process of harmonizing development (coherence).
Everything in nature from the cyclical chemical molecular processes, the DNA of hereditary substance to the galactic movements in the cosmos is subject to identical laws. All movement in the cosmos uses feedback processes (principle of response=responsibility) to develop interconnected forms of organization like a net while simultaneously bound to the common origin (religio). The complex and differentiated universality of life develops with the help of so-called spontaneous orders arising through resonance phenomena in life systems. A synchronous bond of all forces with the source of energy of sunlight (synergy of the "light" forces) is a basic condition for the increasingly differentiated development of life on earth (principle of direction=justice). The principles of continuously developing justice and responsibility bind all life in an ecological continuity. Thus comprehensive justice, full responsibility and harmonious agreement with laws of life alone guarantee the future of humankind.
In blind feasibility mania and high-handed overbearing arrogance as a result of partial scientific knowledge, the person of the civilized world increasingly allows these truths to disappear from sight. By orienting himself in financial or material interests, he has largely lost sense for the whole. As a result, he has not developed any sense for his own responsibility and for his role as an element of the biosphere. Since he doesn't know his life-preserving function in world events, he cannot assume that function. In his underage spiritual existence, he denies responsibility for dangers starting from himself and bows to the self-created practical necessities at the expense of the intactness of life.
Free from a genetically fixed framework, humanity in the course of twenty five million years carries out a physical and spiritual maturation process that continues today. Darwin's theory of the right of the stronger does not do justice to life. The goal of the human development process is the development of a truly human society and culture whose wisdom guarantees their survival. Overcoming the dominant principle of rule and violence and assuming responsibility as humanity are vital. Only then can the cultural evolution confirm and not annul the genetic evolution.
As long as the person unimaginative and spiritually numb or paralyzed seeks his happiness in blind contempt of the guidelines and truths of life, he endangers himself and others. The egocentric, self-centered amassing of possessions violates the principles of wholeness and social unity. This is also true for the use of scientific insights for economic advantages or advantages of an elite group. The advantage of the one cannot become the disadvantage of the other without asocial and environmentally-harmful developments.
Greed for power and possessions makes people blind and insensitive. Whoever only considers the interest of a capital-laden minority or a rigid ideology cannot react freely and unreservedly to arising difficulties or disturbances.
The preservation of private property requires laws and means of power ("legitimated force") for its protection. This is true for individual, national and intellectual property. One's home, savings account or copyright should not be contested. Still we must remember that private property (lat. Privare=rob) is torn from the wholeness of nature and accordingly missing from the total system.
This has serious consequences where life necessities are not involved. The free development of "divine" evolution is disturbed. A deficit arises. The division of life then serves as a motor for balancing processes and operates destructively. The divisive thinking in oppositions (like man-woman, mine-yours, familiar-foreign, good-evil, poor-rich) creates discrimination.
Integration and human maturity only occur through personal grappling with one's own contradictoriness.
It is high time that we reconsider our ideas about the meaning and goal of life and liberate our minds from the narrowness of certain faith communities. It is time that we clarify our relation to life and in particular to the body.
A happy, natural experience of corporeality and sexuality releases feelings that affirm life unrestrictedly. The loving person treasures and seeks to preserve his environment. He is no longer as easily manipulated to the needs of power. On the other hand, hostility to the body and life is the fertile ground for inferiority complexes and compensating domination-mania and possession greed. In a society marked by dependence and oppression, increasing sickness, social problems and disturbances of the ecological balance proliferate.
The conflict between transformation processes in nature and the instrumentalized use of possessions against just distribution hinders evolutionary growth.
The separation of possession and knowledge creates a polarization that destroys unity. The free flow of information is blocked or hindered. A tension arises between possession and force on one side and quality of life on the other.
The possession of one can come into conflict with the possession of others... The drying up of the terror swamps through a balanced worldwide social justice would prevent the weapons trade and the "security market". While legal agreements seek to regulate association with possessions, the interlocking between power or the executive and the propertied should not be overlooked. The legislature must recognize today that the most dangerous contradiction no longer only considers the interests of particular individuals, groups, states, corporations, world cartels etc. The most dangerous contradiction is the estranged human intellect that created - unnoticed - a tension between the human order on one side and natural perfection in a paradise unity and intactness (primary, authentic and creative order=cosmos) on the other side.
This intactness is meant ideally since it is subject to all the cosmic influences, whether "earthquakes" or extraterrestrial catastrophes. Pointing to man-made threats is crucial. The whole is involved, the survival of the higher life forms on this earth.
In western civilization and its subsidiaries, human possessions and the means of power protecting possessions are more important than life. Creatures without rights are wiped out or stamped out. Most people face this fact unconcerned although their life is already threatened.
The massacre cries for an end. The biosphere must be awarded its own formally secured legal protection. The creature cannot be transformed at will into property since the ingredients of nature and the environment cannot be multiplied at pleasure in the interest of business. They multiply only in the interest of life.
Human orders and systems must be structured so they reflect the goals of life,
Responsibility and reverence for life and the principles guaranteeing life must have the highest priority in social and political organizations. The world must be redeemed from all man-made nation-state, economic and ideological restrictions and endangerments to maintain a healthy and truly human dimension of life.
Measured by uses for the biosphere, the `civilized' person comes off badly since human orders exploit present connections and energy cycles without preserving or enriching them. Animals and plants behave more "intelligently" ecologically. Even uncaring mothers could be an example in passing on joyful social conduct to human parents estranged from nature.
The threatened ecological and social balance on our earth shows that the thought systems of dominant nations are intolerable. An education that robs youths of their sensitiveness and intellectual openness in favor of the ideology of the respective society leads to intellectual paralysis. The life-denying mentality is reflected in the clear increase of bodily sicknesses...
The focus on the global whole is lacking in the thought systems of metropolises along with knowledge about healthy personal conduct. The one-sided belief in progress fixated on material growth and increased possessions impairs knowledge of the connections and laws determining life on earth. A conscientization process provided by nature is hindered by our industrialized and capitalized way of life. In their rule mania, many leading nations act like rebellious students who refuse learning material - life -, stubbornly rig up a substitute world, abuse their teacher - nature - and devastate their school room - the environment. In this sense, a destructive-aggressive "no future" youth clearly mirrors the social reality of decadence.
The natural development process should enable us to transform our destructive potential into a general preservation of life that assures the survival of persons and nature without destroying the environment. A creative potential provides us with ideas for organizing world society. Many pre-colonial peoples whom we sacrificed on the altar of "progress" for the interests of power and money already found such organizational ideas.
The basic conditions for well-being and health should be guaranteed for the whole world. This simplest fact has been known since ancient times when natives lived symbiotically entwined with nature. What are the basic necessities of life? Drinking water, toilet facilities, nuclear power for luxury devices and transportation devouring unlimited gasoline can hardly be declared the standards. The surplus on one side of the world produces the shortage on the shady sides.
Material securities alone do not provide a guarantee for satisfaction and inner peace. The alcohol- and addiction problems of consumer-oriented industrial nations prove this. Pleasure-addiction and power-greed are signs of deficiency in emotional security. Flight into surrogate satisfactions/ lives is the price of fear. In our society, we experience a crisis of meaning and values drastically showing us the inadequacy of structures and ideas and the inadequacy of a change of society to social security and ecological compatibility.
The prerequisite for the emotional safety of individual persons and nations is a just right of disposal of the goods of our world that protects nature. The ruling classes may no longer exploit their power position in stealing from the poor and defenseless. The meaning of a "new world order" cannot be redeveloping the economies of the industrial nations. Globalization as pure merger for protection of the powers of capital, industry and the economy (for example, MAI, Multilateral Agreement on Investments) should be unmasked as the attempt to quench any resistance against ecologically or socially dubious practices of global financial interests. Seen this way, globalization shows itself as clear contempt of the sovereignty of people. Under the cloak of "progress and democratic freedom", national constitutions together with their defensive social and ecological rights are annulled in favor of the right of profit of investment capital.
On the other hand, if we understand globalization as a growing together of the peoples through rapid and free communication making possible mutual understanding by coming to know one another, a worldwide solidarity can arise. Common efforts could make life on earth more humane, more just and more tolerable for the environment.
Economic assistance can then cause a healthy6 material development and a free epiphany of the consciousness of all "children of the world family" for the right to life of all people, animals and their living spaces.
A universal ethic can only take hold on the basis of free personal unfolding without dogmatic obstructions. The mature mentally healthy person stands in a meaningful relation to all earthly life. The common basis of all life is recognized. To support this awareness, the religions and political ideologies are urged to abandon old and outmoded dogmas instilling confusion and conflict. The quality of a religion is revealed in how far new consistent answers enable human thought to be more truthful. The murder of persons or creatures in the name of God or supposed "progress" cannot be sanctioned. Authentic thinking can lead to action positively influencing our world reality toward life.
The quality of our life depends on the quality of our thinking. We will live tomorrow depending on how we think today. Therefore quality of thought should have our whole attention. A preponderance of logical ratio in thinking represses playful imagination and creativity. Hardly any room exists on the drawing board of calculating planners for the bird of paradise, the seahorse and the primeval forest.
The diversity of species does not arise from rational obsessions but from a freedom advancing itself (creative chaos). Such a state is marked by tolerance and sensitiveness, qualities that we often preach without living and therefore must urgently realize. When we are ready to work creatively, confidently and with personal responsibility for the common future of all life on this earth, an infallible instinct of people can develop out of many defective ideologies.
A nonviolent climate of intellectual spiritual freedom furthers world peace and creates motivation. The vision of a just life in a family of humanity with equal rights, common celebration, work and enjoyment in joyful interdependence is a remedy against the fear-filled competitive thinking that influences political motivations today.
Our relations with the disadvantaged states of the world and with foreign workers must change. All exploitation of dependent persons must end. We may no longer deny our own responsibility for people who seek our help and come from countries where our prosperity produces social misery.
Instead of dismissing the problems surrounding us as annoying burdens caused by others, these problems should be accepted as challenges offering chances for real innovations. A strength and authority arise from the readiness to face problems and find a just solution.
The moral obligation to point to injustices in neighboring states and inadequacies in our own legal praxis goes along with this strength. Human rights violations and environmental pollutions may no longer be accepted only because they promise low-wage levels and high profits. The result is the ecological emergency and social misery, the streams of refugees and asylum seekers of the world. Instead of sharing our prosperity, we exclude them in a criminalizing way and seek to deport them!
All these phenomena of world injustice and deficiency of love will end when we direct our consciousness to what is common, life and survival. Then one thing will be clear to us. To guarantee the right to life of all people, animals and regions, the natural control circuits on the globe must be preserved, the control circuits of air, drinking water, food chains, sowing and harvesting. In societies, economies and bureaucracies, these control circuits engender inner connections and evolutionary laws infusing just meaning for everything. Wherever we violate this meaning of life, whether out of ignorance or because we corruptly ignore known connections, we receive the results in the form of criminality, terrorism or natural disasters.
Certain conceptions of God and the world stand in the way of the knowledge of simple inescapable feedback mechanisms of nature (action=reactio)... Gods (like the total absolute market or globalized capital) infused with our state power spread fear and threats to do our unfair business under their cloak.
If the produced surplus of historical societies first served as seed for the next year, this surplus later passed over into the livelihood of the priesthood and official class. Today this surplus supports giant banks and industries. The surplus value was achieved at the expense of just distribution. With the interest character of money, power was given to mammon threatening life on all sides today. Exponential multiplication of money on the winners' side of the speculators coheres with immense destruction of money and material on the losers' side, those involved in the innumerable (economic) wars.
The increasing worldwide failure of our monetary systems and economic orders calls our policy into question. To find a reasonable answer, we must realize that subordinating life to dead values and sacrificing for financial pretexts is a deadly error. Environmental protection and social justice are only expensive as long as vast sums are wasted for power-politics (military) goals, nuclear energy or interest service and thus withdrawn from meaningful goals. Out of loving insight, we may summon the will to change ourselves and radically question and abandon customary ways of thinking and acting - before devastating disasters force these changes on us. Life judges us when we act against life.
The radiant joyfulness and inner peace that characterizes many of the poorest in the disadvantaged world is completely lost to us with the dominant bustle and busyness in industrial nations. A growing inner emptiness drives us to race through life believing that we have neglected something. The grand delusions rampant in the achievement- and profit society (e.g. self-righteousness) bring about a deficiency in sincerity and estrange us from our own nature. Love for life suffocates in conflicts of interest as we know from environmental law, food law and the practice of constitutional protection. The result of our hectic way of living is material wealth and supposed security. However our senses are dulled. Sicknesses become chronic and our environment dies. Is this kind of civilization really worth our engagement and energy?
Our politics should stop promoting worldwide death through protectionism of interests and end the powers of destruction and their fusion into uncontrollable giants. The biblical dragons today are transnational corporations and banks. The modern mythological monsters are the secret service organs of the dependent political structures.
Our destructive way of life can be overcome by openly questioning the dominant ideologies and faith systems. A non-aggressive and anxiety-free communication enables us to courageously liste3n to our feelings and our inner voices. Besides the scientific logic, we trustingly open ourselves to the accidental and the new, the realm of ideas and solutions.
By becoming conscious of our responsibility, we take away responsibility from fate and become free to fulfill our tasks and serve life in the scope of evolution/
With the thesis "Prosperity through economic growth" as the guiding political principle, we sacrifice the life of our earth and the creativity of people to certain interests of the "free market economy". A natural limit exists here. Countries and people live from ideas and personal initiatives. A certain control is necessary for realizing ideas since all the possibilities of destruction are latent in our orientationlessness..
Today we must recognize that the veto right of a superpower against the interests of the majority is unjust and that a control in the sense of the functioning whole must be designed. The healthy functioning of the natural, ecological and social connections on earth is the goal of the control and assessment of human ideas and initiatives.
The earthly context begins in local and communal areas and ends in the dimension of the atmosphere. The nation state is a callow intermediate product of human social development forcibly repressed in whole parts of the earth. Nation-state borders do not exist in the reality of earthly life. Nature does not keep to such constructions of human development that is still unfinished. Real limits prevail in the biosphere, limits to life as in the life of Indians, trees and fish that we have long completely ignored in the service of power and profit.
The consequences of this neglect are becoming clearer and clearer. Nevertheless we entrench ourselves dogmatically behind the borders of our thought systems and ideologies. To survive, we must stop and venture out. We must learn to admit our mistakes and draw conclusions from them. Our personal fate, private emotions, fears and wrong ideas influence decisions that have a socio-political effect through grand delusions, stubborn attitudes and prejudices. Therefore accepting our inner uncertainties and fears and speaking about them is extremely important.
Honest words and revealed feelings create nearness and trust. Politicians, journalists and other opinion-makers should always speak in the sense of truth. Only through courageous grappling with the truth in responsible dialogue can we avoid completely destroying the foundations of life on earth.
Christian politicians are also jointly responsible in this development of injustice. Like the church in Rome that claims to be the guardian of the redemption message and the shepherd of humankind, leaders of other religions side with oppression and death for the broad spectrum of life. That so few people see how this fact has actually developed is hard to understand. Worldwide programs and ideas that drive these problems are still urged today. The arrogance, ignorance and deficiency in humanliness on the part of the answerable are hardly comprehensible given all the distress, poverty and traces of death that they cause.
Where domination, violence and profit set the tone, technological perfection leads to psychic emptiness. If we concentrate on fundamental honesty and a worldwide coexistence in emotional security, the creative power of people in the sense of natural public welfare can appear. The motive of profit mania dies out and the journey into the cul-de-sac of substitute satisfactions is ended. A meaningful development "serving the social totality" arises. This development regulates itself in the requirements of life. Unlike destructive progress, development in the area of technology slows down to a healthy measure and enables metaphysical insight to grow.
Evolutionary progress arises when outward progress and the human spirit develop parallel. This progress knows the limits of living space and remains within the life-oriente3d system of the biosphere. Inner orientation and sovereignty appear with this insight. The meditative integration of calculating ratio and sensitiveness leads to emotional enrichment. We see through. We lose our fear; we feel certain. No longer manipulated, we attain an autonomy in the sense of the whole. Our life becomes meaningful for the life of the earth in spreading peace and love.
As soon as the world society stops pursuing material goals alone, the world society will be open for the standard of peace and tolerance. Material development can then follow the development in the mental and essential, the development of consciousness for true quality of life without which we are lost. The culture of the future will be a therapeutic culture that loves life or it will not be a culture any more.
This idea corresponds to the goal of many religions. The goal is a paradise, a nest of love in the earthly and worldly. As our origin, this is both new and old. The human psyche can develop in a life-promoting way when we understand that the biblical world to come is nothing other than the future awaited and politically realized by us. All mystical, magical or pseudo-religious trivializations of traditional frameworks come to their natural end. With our human orientation, creating advantage for a few at the expense of the well-being of others ends.
Beyond showing actual abuse, the mistakes and lies of history should be explained particularly regarding religious leaders' proclivity (not only in Rome) and susceptibility to deadly intolerance counteracted. Both religious and political mistakes and errors of the past have disastrous consequences up to today. Latin America, Africa, India and other continents still suffer today under developments brought from Europe with colonialization.
By not really facing our history, we suffer in the consequences of vague ideas of faith and perspectives of the future. This is true for the Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Chinese worlds. We all suffer in our incompatibility with the demands of nature on account of fanatic schisms and high-handed conceitedness.
We suffer in deficient trust in the power of pluralist dialogue. We suffer in the negative consequences of the repressed history of humanity. We suffer in that the common peacemaking orientation is lacking to us despite all the religions.
Every plant and every animal is simpler on account of its genetically fixed and socially grown (instinctive) behavior patterns. Thus the golden key to a hopeful future lies in the maturation process of humanity to an all-embracing consciousness of responsibility and behavior promoting rather than destroying life. Worry over our personal security and enrichment must give way to trust in the certainty that we all can contribute to the further development of life.
A new healing spirit can emerge in our interpersonal and international political relations. A culture of cooperation on all planes arises thro0ugh open and honest communication. Together we learn from the errors of the past.
The military weapon as a political method belongs in the cemetery of history along with threatening gestures of power.
In the future, war cannot be a method of conflict resolution any more. The media could contribute through courageous disclosure of the motivations of the other side while individuals in personal engagement ask about the problems generating conflict. Power-politics interests should not be supported any longer. Those powers in the community of states that have not yet learned the lessons of the history of the human race and depend on the principle of violent domination will be outlawed worldwide and isolated politically and economically. Still the fears of the parties to conflict should be taken seriously and partnership offered. Bridges should be cast to peaceful community without violence.
The seed of violence naively trivialized in children's comics, computer games and other entertainment media must be uprooted. Then an atmosphere of mutual respect and reverence for life can arise in which ways out of the threatening worldwide catastrophe become clear. Through the release of capital which today is either bound militarily or hidden in countless unreported bank accounts, we will have the funds to compensate the social damages and environmental deficits.
Our armies will find meaningful projects in the health-, transportation-, and communication systems of the underprivileged world. We will solve the hunger problem by abandoning absurd animal production in favor of a use of agriculture adjusted to natural conditions. When we utilize food available from nature without industrial refinement and chemical poisoning, we gain in two ways: civilization sicknesses decrease and all people can be full.
By abandoning the fixation on profit maximization, we become liberated to a clear view of the consequences of our actions. We end the waste of WoManPower, material and energy even in the virtual battlefields of the stock markets. We accept the integrity of the genetic information conforming to evolution and are very cautious and restrictive regarding human encroachments in genetic structures. We regain our power to avert the growing danger of self-destruction.
Culturally mature people are marked by a responsible way of life. Bodily and psychically satisfied persons are immune toward seduction by an irresponsible advertising to constantly growing consumption of goods. When need is not artificially stirred up, the present-day sources of raw materials will still be available to future generations.
Clean industries use production systems and processing principles to guarantee a meaningful, non-toxic circulation of present provisions in energy and material. We copy proven life laws of nature by using the natural powers of sun, wind and water. By imitating life, we recognize that the search for the perpetuum mobile over millennia was not in vain. We are not the inventors of the living. As a result, we are never entitled to patent rights but as partakers in life and nature have conditional rights of use.
Life on earth is a wonder on account of its dynamism and organization. Life's unhindered movement can increase the degree of order in our planet to everyone's advantage. Through a policy of ecological compatibility and social justice, man-made systems can preserve instead of destroy and work in the sense of decreased entropy. Then our work can serve the transformation of the world into a world of peace embedded in the nature always nourishing us.
We transform our dreams and longings in ideals of life and formulate them in political goals that make possible a just social system, a compatible economic system and a culture beyond all ideologies and dogmatic religions. To adjust the constitutions and basic laws of all nations to the demands of a global coexistence in the interest of our survival, we subject them to continuous processes of change. To the extent that sympathy or compassion for the earth as a life community moves into the center of our consciousness, the synergetic effect of a humanity united with nature will become a matter of course accelerating the decentralization of the world-political rule systems.
The present processes of social transformation all over the world offer new chances and ways out of the well-known problems. Only the creation of a therapeutic can clean up social excesses.
Every individual can contribute through conscious and teachable conduct. Personal development into an unprejudiced social consciousness enables us to recognize reactionary, rule-oriented efforts of churches and governments and end them through dissidence or withdrawal of personal support. Only in this way can we protect ourselves from counter-evolutionary obstructions and their "fateful" consequences.
A spirited intellectual exchange in the personal area and courageous engagement for ecological-social goals lead to the sensitiveness and flexibility of our social organs necessary for mastering the challenges of the future. Through continuing discussion of the connections and theses presented here, spaces could form as signposts to an evolutionary future.
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