Spirited Reflection: Shifting from human-centred to ecological-centred 

great bear rainforest, BC, Canada, Photographer: Ian McAllister
Photographer: Ian McAllister

What will be the condition of earth for our grandchildren and great grandchildren? What kind of world will they inherit?

It depends on our engagement now in trying to understand our ecological problems. This has been called ecological guidance – seeking a rounded understanding of our relationship with Earth. Thomas Berry called this The Great Work. As we grow to understand this new revelation – we see and understand more the mysteries of God. Some may refer to these as mysteries of the Spirit, or the Divine.

We need to view the earth in an interconnected way and to reflect on our ecological problems – whether they be polluted air, water, waste, consumption, population – and how we can bring ecological guidance to these concerns.

As Thomas Berry wrote in the Dream of Earth (1), “The next transition, from the dominant scientific-technological period to the ecological period, is turbulent indeed. This turbulence establishes the context of our present educational discussions. Education must be a pervasive life experience – the need for reflection on meaning and values must take place”. 

We have to transition from a human centred to an ecological centred form of progress. Any progress of the human at the expense of the larger life community will lead to a diminishment of human life itself. The fate of humanity depends on our understanding of our relationship with the Earth. We need to have a sense of awe at the Earth’s resilience and beauty. Only that awe can save us from our present commitment to over consumption and the plundering of resources to feed our lifestyles and our greed.

How can we change humanity around – so that we see the error of our ways – and make changes before it is too late? The Earth will survive – but the fate of humanity depends on our engagement with ecological guidance – and our engagement with God, the Spirit and the Divine.

(1) Thomas Berry, “The American College in the Ecological Age,” in The Dream of the Earth, 94.

Anne Mitchell is a member and co-clerk of the Toronto Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and serving as the representative on the KAIROS Board. She has also served as clerk of Canadian Yearly Meeting, the national body of Quakers in Canada. She chairs the Faith & Life Sciences Group of the Canadian Council of Churches and is on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.

Filed in: Spirited Reflections


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