(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!)
This Week’s Journal Topic: Nature
Ever wonder why climate change and oil extraction/transport are such contentious topics? Why do some people join eco-protests, while other worry about a healthy economy? Answer: moral attitudes, values and religious beliefs underlie these opinions about the treatment of the environment.
Consider a breadth of attitudes towards nature:
Science: Nature is something to be controlled. Nature has power that we can and should get better at harnessing for our own purposes. Nature is an indication of the “proper function” of organisms, except when it isn’t and when we prefer to do things another way. In that case, we can and may alter nature’s course.
Bible: God created all of nature; nature is evidence of God’s works. Follow God’s laws and you will do right by the Earth. But humans should propagate and fill the Earth (Genesis 9:1), and man has “dominion over… every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26).
Buddhism: Nature is in a constant state of change. Everything is a process and nothing has an essential, static nature. Clinging to stability causes suffering; suffering lessens when we respect the ebb and flow of natural processes and refrain from force.
Ecology: The whole of nature functions like a giant organism. Due to the complexity of the interconnected natural processes, it’s not feasible to understand nature. Rather than risk unforeseeable damage, it’s better to leave nature alone and avoid disrupting natural processes as much as possible.
Earth worship: Human nature is impulsive and greedy. Nature is fertile, generous and forgiving (renewable). The best way for humans to live is to respect the rights of nature.
- Which of the listed attitudes appeals to you most? Why?
- Which of the listed attitudes appeals to you the least? Why?
- Does “natural” always mean good? Use examples to explain your answer.
- Are humans generally a destructive force on nature?
- Is populating the Earth, and using resources, “natural” behavior for human beings?
- If it isn’t natural, who or where do you find truly “natural” behavior?
- We think of rights as things that belong to living human beings (e.g. human rights). Do you think the Earth has rights?
How to Get the most out of Know Thyself 2019:
Don’t rush through the questions. Try to do only one question every morning, leaving space to add thoughts that might come up later during the day. The journal is designed to help you develop a consistent, daily practice of self-reflection.
If you liked this week’s post, please like or comment! I appreciate the feedback and use it to choose future topics. If you want to see more posts like this one, let me know!