Monday, August 3, 2009

Spiritual Roots of Environmental Desecration

Ivan Illich, describes the environmental desecration that we are witnessing as being rooted in "a corruption in man's self-image". This assertion brings up very different implications than the "simple survival" motive for political action in defense of the environment. Illich says that the only solution to such a crisis is people learning to work together and care for each other. This can be deomstrated in that idea that its the same tools that destroy the environment also injure social relations. Our environmental destruction is a symptom of the deeper insolation that we have shaped ourselves into. Illich further expands upon this idea but discussing the difference between hope and expectation. Illich describes Hope, in its strong sense, means a trusting faith in the goodness of nature, it centres desire on a person from whom we await a gift. Expectation on the other hand means reliance on a results which are planned and controlled by man, a predictable process which will procude what we have the right to claim. Expectation results in the idea that "Man can do what God cannot, namely manipulate others for their own salvation". Illich points the many "tools" like our education, healthcare, and transportations systems, as well as capitalist industrial logic in general as being focused on expectation rather than hope. Are not these type of systems (or "tools" as illich terms them) built with little or no respect for the limits that the environment needs to exist? Are not these systems the ones that contribute to the isolation we experience in our society? How do we move our society from being structured around expectation, to one of hope which fosters "autonomous and creative intercourse between persons"? Such questions are not easily answered, but hopefully this is a starting point. Illich who comes from a faith background, hints at religion as one element that can provide a deep rootedness that can strongly counter many of the ills we experience today.

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