– Heartwood Path Waypoint 1.7 –
Develop Your Practical Skills, Wisdom, Virtue, Goodness, And Goodwill Towards Others
For our purposes here “ethos” means “an accustomed place where customs and habits mark the starting point or appearance of the disposition of individual and collective character” marked in three ways: 1) practical skills and wisdom; 2) virtue and goodness; and 3) goodwill towards others (Webster’s Online Dictionary).
The Ecological Need For Ethos
There is not an ample supply of skills, wisdom, virtue, goodness, and goodwill for others to overcome overpopulation, hunger, poverty, species loss, habitat destruction, and climate change. The world is facing unprecedented problems, partly because there are so many people with the means to consume, pollute, and use harmful technologies. These are troubles in the outer world that do not stop there.
The Psychological Need For Ethos
At its root, the planetary pickle we face –– overpopulation, hunger, poverty, species loss, habitat destruction, and climate change––is caused, largely, by a deficiency in the inner world. Speaking of climate change, we all know that former U.S. Senator Al Gore won the Nobel Prize for his work on how mankind’s heat-producing industrial processes are adversely affecting the environment. As a result of his work, many people now realize that we need a new formula for living sustainably on this planet. I propose we base this formula on a new “Algorhythm.” Doing so along the lines suggested in this series of courses would not only improve our environment, but also our character.
Too many humans are ignorant of the true inner nature they share with others and the true inner nature that makes them unique. We have a crisis of mind and spirit and this malady manifests itself not only within the human mind as mental illnesses but also throughout the world’s environment. We as a species need to become what the earth needs for its own survival. To achieve this transformation for the sake of the earth and ourselves we will need to overcome some serious psychological challenges caused, in part, by being in less contact with the wild.
We need to overcome our own bewilderment. This will require a conversion, person by person, from a psychological acceptance of being reduced to cogs the our culture’s economic machine to being instead whole people living in harmony with nature. Until this happens, humanity will live in a bewildering state of inner turmoil that causes many of our outer world problems.
This inner confusion is multifaceted. It is the lack of understanding about how everything is relative. It is the lack of understanding about how nothing is self-sufficient. It is the lack of understanding about how everything is the result of a run of causes and conditions. The inner confusion is the failure to grasp how everything is interdependent. Important for our purposes here, the inner confusion stems from the failure to recognize that our modern culture is no longer doing what is needed to produce the kind of elders required to promote the genuine solving of our biggest challenges. Failure to understand such things has resulted in mental illnesses, war, poverty, disharmony, and environmental destruction.
Our bewilderment leads to behaviors that are accompanied by attitudes and beliefs that make the normal course of our daily lives “seem sensible, even though business as usual is jeopardizing future survival” (Winter and Koger, 2004, p. 2). By business as usual, Winter and Koger are referring to, among other things, the modern emphasis on individualism with its sense of freedom and mobility
Beyond the determination of technological answers, we humans will have to change the way we behave, change the way we see ourselves, change the way we perceive our relationship to nature. We need to rethink our excessive individualism. It promotes self-indulgence and a lack of concern for others.
We have big global problems, the biggest of which is perhaps the dismantling of the earth’s life support systems—most of which occurring during my own more than half century of life. These problems are causing people to worry that their lives will be changed in unwelcome ways. Even our survivability as a species is called into question.
Over-consumption “is not delivering the goods,” at least not psychologically. Empirical studies of people’s happiness shows that it is not how much stuff people own but the condition of their social relations, their work, and their leisure time that determines how much fulfillment people experience (Winter and Koger, 2004, p. 22).
Despite any grim assessments, take heart, for at least one aspect of the “boom-ster” perspective rings true: as always, big solutions arise from big catastrophes. That is what is happening now. People are beginning to see the scope of the global dilemma and, here and there, fitfully, the real cause of all of it is beginning to be recognized—a first step towards finding out what it will take to make positive advancements towards real solutions. That first positive step is the realization that humans are not separate from nature. We all know that Americans will eventually do the right thing, after trying everything else.