Thursday, November 14, 2019

Man Against Nature :: Environment Pollution

Man Against Nature I perceived, and continue to perceive, a severe problem with our culture. We see the space we inhabit as not wild, as not nature. Nature is in the parks, is in the mountains we drive over to sun ourselves on the beach, in unreachable and savage depths of countries like Brazil and continents like Africa. â€Å"That is nature,† we say, â€Å"not this, not our home, not our workplace.† A favorite author of mine calls this an â€Å"estranged worldview†, a term she borrowed herself from Friedrich Engels. She describes it thusly: â€Å"We are strangers to natur, to other human beings, to parts of ourselves. We see the world as made up of separate, isolated, nonliving parts that have no inherent value. â€Å"They are not even dead – because death implies life.)†[i] She goes on to say that â€Å"when nature is empty of spirit, forests and trees become merely timber, something to be measured in board feet, valued only for its profitability, not . . . even for its part in the larger ecosystem.†[ii] Starhawk, the author, finds the roots of an estranged worldview laid deep into our past, two millennia and more. In the Enlightenment, she tells us, the separation of the divine and the mundane (from the Latin word mundus, meaning â€Å"world†) promoted by Christianity became what she calls the â€Å"machine image†, a very telling metaphor.[iii] In such a worldview, when we are told by William McDonough that he wants to build a â€Å"building like a tree†, we find the statement odd ad perhaps even laughable. Trees are alive. Buldings aren’t. It seems so simple. I will return to that idea of a â€Å"building like a tree†. By now, you might be protesting to the invisible author – me – that you do connect yourself to nature, that you visit national parks, enjoy camping and hiking, perhaps even teach Environmental Science classes. McDonough and his chemist cohort, Michael Braungart, wonder if â€Å"it is all too easy to leave our reverance in the parking lots.†[iv] Being designers, they take a look at less abstract demonstrations of the estranged worldview than does Starhawk (a Wiccan spiritual and ethical author), and they find it in the famed â€Å"view† that every middle management type is looking to have from his corner office after the promotion.

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