Human beings were more or less in balance with their planet for 250,000 years. If one were to consider all previous primates that figure goes up to several million years. There is still a long, long way to go before humanity can be said to be as successfully represented as dinosaurs, horse-shoe crabs or insects. All of these life-forms have been around for many millions of years. But Homo sapiens developed a large brain and it is as yet uncertain as to whether they will use that to their advantage or to their destruction.
Although it seems easy to assume that only an inferior organism would destroy its own planetary host, this appears to be exactly what human beings are doing. Though the reasons this is occurring might seem mysterious or complex, there are actually just a few simple factors. They simply were misled, their core values were stripped and their longing for belonging was used to steer them toward ever tighter circles of illusory entitlement.
The reasons why people need to accept ecopsychology is to turn a garbage ravaged world into a loved and protected one. They want to love and be loved, and for this, all natural laws require reciprocity and recognition that diversity is essential, sustainability is not just achievable. Sustainability can be defined as systems that work with abundance and not scarcity. Sustainability for mental, emotional, physical and economic life is clean, green, job creating and equitable. It is the basis for the next industrial revolution, and well overdue.
Hope may be found in realizing that for the far greater part of their tenure on Earth, the predominant primates realized and even revered the value of their planet. It was not until the advent of agriculture, city states, abstract entities such as national borders, money, credit and exclusive faiths that people got the idea to accept over-exploitation of each other, or of resources. Plunder is a good word. It describes not just what was presented as a manifest destiny for some, but the treasure taken from the hearts of all.
Ecopsychology recognizes that disconnection from nature, ideology that accepts exploitation or even domination, is not natural to humanity. All the conceptual ideas that suggest it is better for a few to have wealth and power than for all to be balanced fairly are conceived in selfishness and result in self-destruction. Even those couched as morality, such as no birth control or education for women do not recognize the cost of overpopulation, disease, or food depletion.
Moving indoors and forming city states at the beginning of the agricultural revolution, and moving even farther indoors, and into urban settings at the beginning of the first industrial revolution had unexpected consequences. Among these are world economies based on externalized costs, (profits are privatized, costs of trash, toxins, and ill health are socialized) a world run on destructive fuels, over-population and acceptance of exploitative practices. Finally, a socio-psychological development of exclusivity encouraged more people to want to be rich than to be equal.
However, to achieve this, more and more people believed they needed to forego their sacred bonds to the physical world. Instead they embraced an abstract striving for belonging based on marketing, media, mass acquisition, easy credit and competition with everyone else. The turning away from all natural sources of food, air, water, beauty, restorative healing and regeneration allowed people to live in debt with too much junk. But still they were told this was the key to “success.”
Even now, there are many people who cannot bring themselves to realize they are being duped at the cost of belonging to a healthier world. There are people, for example, who believe their nation is better than others, or that their tribe/race/species/religion/sports team/energy source/lifestyle, etc., is superior to everything of diversity which constitutes wholeness.
The idea of elitist values, exclusivity for all, “Trump-pian class, Kardashian ass or Honey Boo Boo sass” are desirable characteristics is fed to the public as if they had value. They do not.They are just a symptom of a culture diseased with celebrity, begging for belonging and aching for distraction from a world they feel powerless to protect.
Trash t.v. trashed ecosystems, trash talk media and just plain trash are clogging up the hearts and minds of people who would otherwise always choose real value. Obesity and starvation stalk the land. Resource wars, toxic power and intoxicants numb the pain.
Last but not least, people are still asked to trust authority over their own evolved senses. They want to think maybe the “after” life is better than the here and now. Or worse, they are told that it is part of some grand and great scheme that this world and life be bullet-ridden, polluted, flooded, burned,oil-slicked or whirl-winded to death.
Ecopsychology simply asks for people to trust in their senses. Trust that the sun will rise tomorrow and miraculously offer light that plants turn into physical, sustaining matter. Trust that these plants in addition to providing food, provide all oxygen, shelter, tools, medicines, fuels, and entire ecosystems upon which all life depends. Trust that turning off the video to go outside once in awhile will offer infinite rewards. Trust that growing food, or cooperating with a local farmers market will have social dividends, health dividends, taste, freshness and pleasure rewards and more. Trust that you have a right, even a duty, to demand quality, durability, up-cycling prosperity and luxuriant, gorgeous life-affirming biota and its abundance. Trust that eating meat one day per week less will make provide a happier body, a happier hen, and a happier climate. Trust that people are not the enemy but the heroes of a more cooperating, clean, green and highly functioning world. Trust that justice, compassion and mercy are human attributes that can go far beyond one household to benefit the whole. Trust that a life-giving tree will offer its shade to sinner and saint alike, but your local bank/media outlet/mall/and marketer offers not shade, but the shady deal, and not to all equally, but to “some who are more equal than others.”
Ecopsychology is the only psychology that encompasses the human psyche belonging to a more than human world. To find wholeness, trust the creation, or the intelligence that created it. Trust belonging. Take a breathe and know the multitudes past, present and future that share every molecule of “your” being.