– Heartwood Path Waypoint 1.42 –
Certitude & Development
Blend Moral Convictions With "Qualified" Growth
Altering behaviors and developing “improved” physical systems are matters of technology and science. These are important and worthwhile tools in the effort to protect humaNature. Two conditions are needed to accompany these tools, however: 1) a sense of what we want to do and 2) a sense of what we ought to do. The first condition falls in the realm of intentions. The second in the realm of ethics––where one finds the principles that guide behaviors in ways that cause the maximum amount of good for the maximum number of sentient beings. Both conditions fall in the realm of ideas—the thoughts that precede every revolution, every invention, and every transformation. Without changing the inner world of intentions and ethics the behaviors and physical systems we develop in the external world will likely end up being misguided, counterproductive, or inappropriate.
Information alone may not be enough to save the environment. “What is missing is the moral imperative, the conviction that assuring our own comfort at terrible cost to the future is not worthy of us as moral beings” (Moore and Nelson, 2010, p. xvi).
So it is, in part, our morality that calls us to environmental action. “No amount of factual information will tell us what we ought to do. For that, we need moral convictions . . .” (Moore and Nelson, 2010, p. xvii). Without certitude, there will be consequences, we will be failing in our duties as a species to avert harm to the earth, and we will fail to honor and celebrate our extraordinary world. There is not much factual data in this book because we as a species cannot rely on facts alone to guarantee environmental sustainability.
Nor can we rely solely on economic development to grow our way out of the global environmental predicament. Economic growth needs to be “qualified,” by which I mean it ought to be authorized through democratic responses and made to fit within a world that sustains a quality of life for present and future generations. Rapid, ill-conceived economic growth is a strain on the environment; and, since corporate, governmental, or military elite usually end up with most of the spoils, grosser national products often spur social strife. The real problem is not a lack of physical resources. The real problem is a decline in human spirit.
To fix this problem and the environmental predicament we do not need greater quantities. Instead, we need the development of greater qualities. By this I mean humans involved in making a difference need to change their way of seeing, understanding, and acting. Use the following activity to assess but not judge (by saying something is good or bad) the qualities of your life right now.