– Heartwood Path Waypoint 1.12 –
Write an Eco-ethical Vision Statement
A worthy eco-ethic has to take into account equity, fairness, and sustainability for not only present and future generations of humans but also for present and future generations of non-humans. This eco-ethic will need to focus on the appropriateness of business action but, even more importantly, it will also have to help us develop and share a global ethos that serves as a set of guiding beliefs that would “shift human behavior in ways that would protect the biospheric life support system and make better use of natural capital” (Cairns, 2001, p.1).
According to biologist John Cairns, Jr., an “ethos based on fairness and equity regarding human society’s behavior within its own and other species seems to be the only possible unifying theme for sustainable use of the planet” (2001, p. 2). An ethos with such a plank does not require a significant disregard for individual rights.
In the United States, “individual ‘rights’ are proclaimed much more frequently than individual responsibility for the greater or universal good” (Cairns, 2001, p. 3). Surely honoring and respecting the uniqueness of each individual can be achieved without endorsing uncivil, disruptive behavior.
One approach that guides this writing comes from my best answer to the question: What is more important in making progress towards solving the global environmental predicament than greener technology, more sensitive science, a safety net of environmental laws, and religion becoming an advocate for a sustainable environment? My answer is an eco-psychology that brings out the best in people so that they can, if they choose as I hope they will, trade Band-Aid solutions for remedies that go to the root of the problem. That root is the human mind. Fix it and you fix the planet. As Dudjom Rinpoche says: “The nature of mind is the nature of everything” (George, 1995, p.54).
It is, therefore, critical that the premier step towards securing the happiness that comes from preserving natural beauty and establishing environmental sustainability is to make changes in the inner world, for if we do not, all attempted improvements in the outer world will be sabotaged by our psychological demons. I am not talking about the need to force intellectual conclusions. Rather, I am talking about the development of optimal mental-emotional-spiritual functioning so that people are in the best shape psychologically to create good ideas in their heads that are tempered by their hearts.
Inner world improvements alone will not be adequate if people do not find a way to better link what is in their heads with what is in their hearts. Such links come from direct experience, which is why in this series of courses the reader finds simple yet profound ways to experience nature and to glean its heart and wisdom. Such experiences will be helpful because they will help us with, as Einstein says, “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the world of nature in its beauty” (George, 1995, p.54). As an important precursor to the development of more compassion towards others, do the following activity. It is about visioning, which is an important first step in goal setting. We will be asking you to write a personal vision statement, one that paints a clear picture of how you want to be after you have transformed yourself along the Heartwood Path. You will be asked to include in your word-picture many of the eco-ethical component previously mentioned in this waypoint.