In a very real sense, ecopsychology is social development. Everyone born in any society enters a place in the world where food, scenery, air, water, the landscape, music, dance and every kind of development are linked. Those plucked out of their natural “place” often suffer terribly. Be it a slave taken from Africa, a Native american torn from their roots, or even just a new student in a new and foreign setting, what is shared in these scenarios is the sense of heritage, place and security that is taken away.
Getting along with others depends upon recognizing that others are equally worthy of being appreciated, loved, needed, and given care and concern. Any exploitative relationship, such as using people to get ahead, or using resources to enrich just one small group, is going to disrupt the social cohesion of that place. Ecopsychology is the science that shows people their social place among all organisms is a shared and dependent one. For everyone to survive will require more people to realize earth itself is a home, a place, a key to sustaining and respecting life.
Once, people just lived in small villages, and did not connect much to the “outside” world. Earth, is however a global village. It is a place which is much larger in locale, but smaller in finite resources and less living space.
In terms of connection, however, social development is everywhere and ongoing. Less human contact is the norm and electronic contact is increasing. Social media, instant messaging, texting, satellites and human presence all over the earth is interconnected. But, lost in isolated lives on screen, social development often suffers from loss of place. Many are not connected as much as needed, in the real, living and supporting world of wind, sunlight, raindrops, sensation and origin. Landscapes and vistas go unseen when people forget to engage the world in which they evolved connected to all other living, organic societies.
For improved social development, young and old alike need to spend some time in the sensory, living and breathing world in order to thrive. Wilderness, especially offers a whole other “society” in which to revitalize, restore, and regenerate a grounding sense of belonging to Earth.
People are just now, however coming to realize that earth too, is a place. It is a place with only shared resources that can be over-harvested and exploited. It is also a bio-diverse community that is only supportive when healthy. It is interactive and dynamic, and must be cared about to be sustained.
For children born today, there is a moral and ethical imperative that they learn how victimization is wrong because all victims are in fact other life forms upon which inter dependency is required. Social development includes not just that everyone learns exploitation is wrong among humans, but also wrong when animals, plants, forests and eco-systems are threatened. These are the inter woven living societies that sustain all life, including human life. Poverty, war, racism and more happen when one group or species thinks it correct to conquer, and or control another race or species.
The sooner that people understand that they belong to the earth and not the other way around, the sooner they can also learn from the valuable lessons of history that inclusion improves societies with diversity. And humans on earth are part of a society of water, soil, minerals, air and food that requires protection, concern and understood connection.