ARE YOU AN EARTH PROTECTOR? OR A WORLD DESTROYER?
HOW WE VIEW EARTH – OUR ‘WORLDVIEW’ – IS WHAT CURRENTLY SEPARATES THOSE WHO WOULD DESTROY HER FROM THOSE WHO ARE PROTECTING HER.
By Zhiwa Woodbury (C) 2019
“We are in the midst of an epic contest between
the rights of Mother Earth and the rights of
corporations and militarized states
using obsolete world views.
That is the challenge of our generation.”
~ Vandana Shiva (physicist)
Humanity has been dealt an existential double-whammy over the past year or so. If we do not make radical changes to the heat engine that is cooking the oceans and despoiling the land in the coming decade, the world’s scientists tell us, we will miss our chance to save civilization. Not long thereafter came the news that a million or so species are facing extinction right now.
Imagine a world without lions and tigers and bears – oh my! Or an ocean without whales and sharks and dolphins. How would you explain such a world to your grandchildren?
Quite naturally, in the harsh light of these pronouncements, today’s children are marching in the streets, demanding a viable future that is quickly fading from view, young couples are deciding not to have babies, and the elderly are getting gassed and arrested on the front lines of direct action along with our indigenous allies. A grass-roots rebellion of the sensible, intelligent and increasingly aware masses, spawned in the Motherland (UK), has spread across Europe like an Awakening Spring, inspired by the 16-year old Swedish climate prodigy Greta Thunberg.
Even in the shadow of America’s racist/misogynist White House, which commits crimes against nature on an almost daily basis now, the children-led Sunrise Movement stormed the ‘Bastille’ – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office – demanding a Green New Deal from our faux-representatives, who are imprisoned by their corporate overlords in gilded cages.
Rather miraculously, the GND instantly became a litmus test for Democratic candidates for President.
World governments are even starting to declare climate emergency.
But has anything really changed?
Fueled by Obama-esque, empty rhetoric, like that from Canadian PM Trudeau and his ilk, the heat engine keeps revving up, carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, and the political frogs continue to boil while 200 more species went extinct today. Planes keep taking off, new cars and monster trucks keep rolling off assembly lines, fossil fuels continue to make people richer, exploration for more continues apace, and babies in cages command our attention while the heavily medicated masses continue buying new smart phones and eating poisoned food from plastic containers destined for some starving whale’s belly.
We are subjected to endless debates on health care while the oceans are literally dying and climate tipping points are being passed.
Perhaps even more significant than increasing CO2 emissions, the endless fossil fuel war machine shows no signs of slowing down, sapping resources that could otherwise be directed to a Climate Marshall Plan, while the corporate media gleefully attacks and smears the only anti-war, pro-peace candidates.
What is our problem here, people?
The Antithesis of Climate Activism
The problem is stubbornly rooted in an increasingly obvious disconnect between our world view and our fervent, mostly shared desire to collectively respond to the existential threat of climate trauma. As long as our world view supports the continuation of business as usual, as long as it enables us to ignore the constant presence of global distress and encourages us to go on living our desperate little consumer lives – until we can’t – then that is what we will do, compelled by the puzzling inertia of our deeply engrained, worldview-enabled habits.
And when I say “we” here, I mean that in the collective sense of shared political responsibility, since this crisis is attributable to our collective way of living – especially our diets, our travel patterns, and the overly technological and consumptive ways we pursue enjoyment. “Arendt identifies political responsibility as a form of non-distributive collective responsibility, the assumption of which does not turn on individual fault but derives [instead] from ‘my membership in a group (a collective) which no voluntary act of mine can dissolve’ (Young 2004).”
As someone who has been hacking at the psychological roots of the climate crisis for the past several years, including writing a book on ‘climate grief’ before it became a buzzword, I’ve had occasion to observe this ‘extinction-enabling world view’ thwart even the psychology profession’s own misguided attempts to deal with the crisis. The entrenched dogma of mainstream psychology, enforced by the American Psychology Association (APA), is only able to acknowledge the trauma of the climate crisis myopically, in the wake of extreme climate events (because that is something familiar – “evidence based” – we can monetize and apply a bandaid to), while climate trauma itself is something new that doesn’t fit APA’s scientific-materialist paradigmatic worldview.
I and others in my non-APA-sanctioned field of ecopsychology, which places nature (eco- means home) and not ego at the center of self-identity, have come to the conclusion that what everyone has been calling “climate change” or “global warming” all these years, adopting the sterile jargon of climate scientists, is actually a new and unprecedented form of trauma – a global assault on the biosphere. Climate Trauma is an entirely new order of trauma, one that supersedes the three lower orders of trauma: epigenetic (generational), personal (experiential), and cultural (shared) traumas. If we’re right, the ramifications for how we have been addressing this existential crisis are profound.
Acknowledging our shared trauma is a game changer.
Generally speaking, there can be no recovery from trauma without acknowledgement. It’s a bit of a Catch-22: every day there are more converts to the imperative worldview that sees and feels climate trauma; while for establishment psychologists, media and politicians, the words ‘climate trauma’ only create cognitive dissonance. Even in the absence of valid objections to the theory, climate trauma just doesn’t fit the dominant paradigm enshrined in their scientific-materialist world view, and so they dismiss it.
Evidence of this advanced form of denialism can be found in academic papers and news accounts that continue to couch what is clearly “trauma,” by almost any definition, in euphemistic terms like ‘eco-anxiety’, ‘depression’ (itself a misnomer in this context for demoralization), or my favorite, “PRE-traumatic stress disorder” — as if we are merely anticipating a future crisis!
Is the 6th Great Extinction not already underway?! Is that not traumatic?!
The Gaia Hypothesis
I think I know what the real disconnect is here, and it can NOT be emphasized enough: World as Living Being!
This is just not a concept that fits within the strict confines of the dominant world view that is enabling global ecocide, for good reason, which of course is the same world view of the classically trained psychologist, sociologist, political scientist, or journalist. This may well account for the tragedy of our predicament, because if we could really see the world as it is – a living, breathing, feeling (sentient) organism – in the same way that indigenous people the world over have always seen the earth quite literally as their mother – then we wouldn’t be able to continue abusing her in good conscience. We would actually feel shame for doing so.
As Standing Rock elder Chief Arvol Looking Horse puts it, western culture sees nature as a resource, while indigenous peoples more accurately see it as a life-source.
Resources are exploited – drilled, clearcut, pumped with poison, etc. Life-sources are universally revered and honored. No being in touch with their true nature would ever think of exploiting, objectifying, or harming – up to killing – their own mother.
So this is a really big issue right now, and it poses an equally big question:
Is the idea of the world as a living being really just a spiritual, meta-physical ‘new age’ idea?
Is that why it does not compute in our mechanistic, objectifying and consumptive world view?
If we approach this question logically, instead of treating it ideologically as a political question, we can quickly appreciate the fatal flaw in our collective cognitive bias. And this correction in our accepted worldview can, in turn, have cascading effects on everything we say and do. It can, in a very real sense, turn the tide of global sentiment in relation to the climate crisis.
To first give you an idea of how taboo this subject is, consider the experience of social philosopher Charles Eisenstein, who is perhaps the leading proponent for the idea that we must first change our worldview if we are to solve the climate crisis. His latest book, Climate – A New Story, cuts right to the heart of the climate crisis, illuminating and naming the emerging world view that must quickly displace our entrenched world view if civilization is to survive. And yet, in spite of the success of his prior books Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, Eisenstein shares that in writing New Story, he “was tempted (and advised) to avoid saying things like ‘The earth is alive and sentient.’” To do so, he says, would cause him to be excluded by ‘serious’ people.
I know what that professional peer pressure feels like. To fully accept the paradigm of climate trauma, it is necessary for us to think of the earth as ensouled, or at least sentient, rather than just inert. We can all see the trauma caused by an abusive husband, and have no problem sympathizing with the victimized wife or child. But we initially resist the idea that our assault on the planet is itself a kind of trauma. “Trauma-inducing, perhaps” the APA might say, “because only living beings can experience trauma – you cannot traumatize an entire planet.”
In the end, Eisenstein decided to ignore this social taboo. He realized that “[t]he idea that the planet is alive… even sentient… disposes us to feel more, to care more, and to do more. No longer can we hide from our grief and love behind the ideology that the world is just a pile of stuff to be used instrumentally for our own ends.”
This gets to the crux of the issue with inaction. If the climate crisis is just an intellectual construct in your head, as it is with those unfeeling ‘serious people’, you will simply try to work your way around it – as most are now doing. If, on the other hand, you feel the turmoil and overwhelming betrayal of climate trauma in your heart, as is obvious in the faces and words of the children strikers led by Greta Thunberg, then there is a compulsion to act. It isn’t ideological to you, and it is not a construct – it is a deeply and profoundly personal crisis.
The solution is personal as well, in spite of all the flak I keep getting from political theorists. As Eisenstein puts it: “The Revolution is Love,” feeling our way into the heart of climate trauma. He names this salutary emergent world view after Thich Nhat Han’s idea of “interbeing.”
The world is not inert. And as one of Eisenstein’s supporters puts it:
“If the shift in cultural narrative from the Story of Separation to the Story of Interbeing is the central worldview shift of the Great Turning — as we move from the dominance of industrial growth societies to regenerative life-sustaining societies — then no one word encompasses this change in our cultures’ guiding stories better than Gaia.”
Synthesis: Quantum Awareness
I have previously made the point that by combining radical ecopsychology, which is the cutting edge of modern psychology, with quantum physics, the cutting edge of science, we arrive at a worldview that enables recovery from the abusive relationship of climate trauma. I call this emerging worldview Quantum Ecopsychology. I would now add that this emergent worldview is also fostering a new kind of awareness – quantum awareness – a term we will bookmark and return to.
This quantum worldview necessarily sees the planet as a living, breathing organism which gave us life and now sustains us – the very definition of a mother. What I want to suggest here is that it is this quantum worldview that comports with reality, not the mainstream convention that the planet is a lifeless, soulless, inert resource to be exploited and discarded.
Can you grasp how this distinction lies at the heart of the climate crisis?
Consider how we got here. All of western science is rooted in the religiously derived dogma of Rene Descartes. This is kind of mind blowing – the idea that modern science is based on religion – especially when you consider that it is mainstream science which accuses deep ecology and ecopsychology of being new age religions! Cartesian analysis, the fundamental precept for experimental science, rests on Descartes’ religious belief “I think, therefore I am.” According to Descartes – who made horrific displays of nailing dogs to planks and dissecting them alive in public squares – only humans are divinely blessed with thinking and feeling, while all other life forms are machines placed here for our benefit by God.
This may sound preposterous to our modern sensibility, but consider that our own conditioned, isolationist mindset of “I in here, and the world out there” is expressly derived from this same Cartesian monstrosity. As is all science – especially the science of mind. Because Freud was obsessed with acceptance of psychology as a science, rather than a branch of philosophy, he postulated something he labeled ‘ego’ and isolated this objectified, reified self from everything else labeled ‘environment’ (following Descartes lead).
This separation of the self from the natural world we co-evolved with was the departure point from Freud’s cult for Carl Jung, who placed our collective psyche at the center of “self,” rather than an isolated ego. Both Jung and Pauli viewed this collective psyche (a Greek word meaning ‘soul’) as inseparable from the soul of the world, or Anima Mundi:
“There is nothing without spirit, for spirit seems to be inside of things… the soul of objects. Whether that is our own psyche or the psyche of the universe we don’t know, but if one touches the earth one cannot avoid spirit…
The psyche is simply the world seen from within… [T]he collective unconscious is simply Nature.”
Ecopsychology is grounded in Jung’s more natural worldview. This Jungian perspective on a self embedded in the world was profoundly influenced by Jung’s collaboration with Wolfgang Pauli, one of the most significant quantum physicists of the 20th century. Pauli and Jung foresaw our present existential crisis, and shared a conviction that the answers lay in a necessary fusion of “physics” with “psyche”.
As Pauli saw it, Jung’s “unconscious is in both man and nature… [and] matter goes just as deep as spirit.” Ibid. And as Jung noted, “America does not see that it is in any danger [because it] is absolutely divorced, you know, from nature in a way,” leaving our psyches “in absolute uproar… Look at the rebellion of modern youth” (1957).
Indeed, look at the rebellion of today’s youngest generation, as we have only made that separation from Nature far worse since the rebellious sixties.
Of course, Freud’s more pessimistic view of the human psyche won out, in no small part because of the efforts of his nephew, Edward Bernays, who perversely saw in Uncle Sigmund’s isolation of ego a powerful tool for controlling the masses. Bernays was a societal giant in early 20th Century America who straddled both the political and industrial worlds. He invented public relations, and used his uncle’s pseudo-science to engineer (along with Anna Freud) our modern consumer society, which is premised on the idea of creating artificial desires in the masses and then exploiting those desires to transform citizens into consumers.
Modern psychology only reinforces this religiously inspired separation of humans from their environment with endless ‘objective’ experimentation in pursuit of the dogma called “evidence-based empiricism.”
Except it turns out there is no such thing as an ‘objective experiment,’ even in the world of physics.
This is perhaps the most astonishing discovery of modern science. As proven by quantum physicists, if an experiment is designed to prove that atoms are discrete particles, atoms behave like discrete particles. If the experiment is instead designed to prove an atom is a wave that passes through a plate in two or more different places at the same time, the atom behaves like a wave!
The unobserved, quantum wave of potentiality only “collapses” into a discrete atom when it is observed or measured by a human searching for a discrete atom.
We live in a matrix!
Nearly a century later, our minds are still rightly blown by this proven principle, called ‘Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.’ Now if this is true at the base level of particle physics, what does that say about so-called “objective experiments” on the immaterial, spirit-like psyche?! Is modern psychology really science-based?
As the quantum physicist/modern philosopher B. Alan Wallace points out:
“Consciousness is not physical or physically detectable, and its alleged emergence from chemical and electromagnetic activity in the brain  is not comprehensible in terms of the laws of physics. Consciousness no more resides in the brain than it does in a silicon-based computer… It is not an emergent property or function of matter, and the unquestioned belief that it must be is the greatest superstition promoted by scientists today.”
Simply stated, while there is an association between the electrochemical cells in our brains and activities in our mind, or psyche, the material brain and the immaterial mind are not one and the same, no more than we can say the glass and metal of a light bulb is light. Environmental educator Julie J. Morley calls this “human exceptionialism”:
“According to modern scientific materialism, sentience emerges from complex brains, which are rare in the universe. This creates a gap between humans and everything else, perpetuating vicious cycles of life-denying ecological and sociological practices.”
Much to our disadvantage, Freud’s pessimistic, Cartesian view of human nature divorced from Nature nonetheless prevailed, and his ego-centric idea that we have a death wish has rather quickly become our ‘self’-fulfilling prophesy in the modern world. As Jung prophesied:
“The facts of nature cannot in the long run be violated. Penetrating and seeping through everything like water, they will undermine any system that fails to take account of them, and sooner or later they will bring about its downfall.”
Our capitalist, objectifying global system, premised on endless growth, exploitation and consumption, is not just experiencing downfall, it is in free-fall. It is therefore incumbent upon us to now correct this historical error – in psychology, for example, by placing our ‘home’ (eco), our life-source, at the center of our psyche, rather than Freud’s cigar-shaped, sexually-crazed and isolated ego.
Our world view must become life-affirming, rather than inherently destructive and suicidal.
Cosmic Consciousness: The Emerging Scientific Paradigm
What Jung & Pauli grasped intellectually and experientially – via Jung’s ‘synchronicity’ and what Pauli experienced as a holistic ‘psycho-physical reality’ – is not just grounded in the naturally immersive, participatory world view of indigenous peoples, but is also an old idea in Western philosophy, which dates all the way back to Plato. It is a view of reality that was accepted as true by both the Father of quantum physics (Werner Heisenberg) and the Father of American psychology (William James).
While this critical idea carries the fancy label of ‘monistic idealism,’ it is both easy to understand and revolutionary in its import – especially in resolving the dispute between the mainstream scientific-materialist worldview (world as resource) and the indigenous, quantum ecopsychological worldview (world as life-source).
The Cartesian, scientific-materialist worldview maintains that matter is the basic stuff of the universe, since it can be measured, while everything else – including consciousness – derives from matter. To Descartes, consciousness was imparted by God. Modern science, consistent with the dogma of scientific materialism, assumes it arises from the grey matter of our brain. Except, as Wallace points out, neuroscience has never actually been able to explain how something that is essentially immaterial, our mind, can emerge from something that is material – the atoms that make up the neurons and chemicals in our brain.
That makes it a religious belief – not scientific at all.
Mind/consciousness arising from atoms and molecules – matter – is tantamount to getting blood from a rock. We even have a rather accurate name for this epistemological connundrum: The Ghost in the Machine.
Very Cartesian – and mystical! It is similar to cosmologists projecting the cosmos backward to the moment of the Big Bang, where suddenly, in the moment after the theoretical Big Bang, all the variables of the cosmologists’ equation break down. This requires the introduction of “imaginary time” (time multiplied by the square root of -1, which is a mathematical fiction) in order to finally solve the equation.
And still it doesn’t occur to them that the implication of that slick move is that time really is imaginal – or that linear time, at least, is a fiction.
Monistic idealism is the exact opposite of scientific materialism, which is what makes it so radically evolutionary and capable of uniting the masses against the conventionally dominant paradigm, or matrix, that is killing us. It undermines all the assumptions that have landed us in this existential, global crisis, such as the commodification of nature.
Monistic idealism is based on the basic assumption that consciousness is the primary phenomenon in the universe, not matter, and therefore all else – including matter – arises from, and is a manifestation of, that basic substrate of existence. Theoretical physicist David Bohm referred to that substrate as the “implicate order” that underpins all being, while Eastern philosophy refers to it as the “ground of being” itself.
Yes, it’s true. The cosmos turns out to be conscious through-and-through. And suddenly the idea that the earth, too, is a conscious, sentient being becomes science, not myth. And in turn, Cartesian duality becomes myth, not science.
This paradigm shift has the effect of turning our world on its head – something our world really needs right now!
The technical way of saying all this in polite company is that consciousness is the only primary phenomenon, while all else that appears to us is epiphenomenal, or derived from that primary phenomenon. For too long now, science has mistakenly assumed matter to be the primary phenomenon, and to this day it still clings to the superstition that consciousness is an epiphenomenon derived from matter.
Immediately, you can see why quantum physicists would intuit the worldview of monistic idealism to be true, and not Newton’s mechanistic worldview. It is the experimenter’s mind, after all, that collapses the wave with the act of measuring, or even just observing, matter in the laboratory. At the most fundamental level of observation, the entire universe responds to the observing consciousness.
Okay, you may be wondering what this has to do with the climate crisis, right?
Well, as Naomi Klein might say, “this changes everything.” Why?
Because, paradoxically, there are no things! Not a single object in the entire observable universe.
There are only relations…
As physicist Laurent Nottale puts it:
“If things do not exist in absolute terms, but do nevertheless exist, then their nature must be sought in the relationships that bring them together… Objects are relationships.“
Objects are relationships! Think of all the problems in the world that flow from objectification! Racism (objectifying so-called primitives). Sexism. Consumerism! And, of course, the ultimate objectification: seeing Nature and even living beings as ‘resources,’ not life-sources.
So now ask yourself: how would our world change if we all called out objectification not just in social movements like #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and opposing pipelines, but also in every aspect of our relationships with ourself, with others, and with the natural world? How different would our world become if we simply learned to see life and experience through the clarifying lens of healthy, healing relationships tending towards wholeness? What Native Americans refer to as “all my relations.”
Isn’t this what we really mean when we say that we now live in an ‘interconnected world’? To live with an attitude or orientation towards interdependence, and not isolation through objectification and commodification? And, as Charles Eisenstein has so beautifully unpacked it, doesn’t the embrace of this world view, this view of our self, of all others, and of our place in the world, change everything?
This is even what Pope Francis has gone to great pains to convey in Laudato Si.’ But it isn’t just a religious view, as he himself makes quite clear. It is instead a modern, rational, scientific view of how things really exist! A worldview that comports with reality – versus how things appear to us and how we have come to presume they exist, based on the religious views of a madman who dissected live dogs in the public square!
Perhaps now we can appreciate why we have reached the point where the imperialist leader of the corporate world is so frantically challenging the very notion of what is true, or factual, and is forced to resort to labeling all inconvenient truths as “fake news.” The radical shift in perspective that flows from this emergent worldview happens to embody the “Truth” that must precede our “Reconciliation” with the natural world; with Gaia, our life-source. Thus, from the perspective of capitalism and imperialism, it must be denied. This is the real battlefield where our future is being determined.
The Overview Effect
Another defining moment in the human story followed closely on the heels of the startling discoveries in quantum physics: for the first time, the human species observed its home planet from outer space. This experience gave giving to what astronauts describe as “the overview effect” – the natural cognitive shift in awareness that comes from viewing the Earth holistically from space.
As astronaut Mae Jemison describes the experience:
“I felt  connected. For me, it wasn’t a connection back down to Earth. It was a connection with the rest of the universe. For me, it was about outward versus inward.”
Jemison is describing the primal feeling of connecting with a thoroughly conscious universe. No objects, just relations…
And from this new perspective, based on the image of a living planet brought back to Earth – Prometheus-like – from outer space, a new and complimentary worldview began to emerge and take shape. Inspired by the image of Earth rising over the moonscape beamed back to us by the Apollo astronauts, Dr. James Lovelock first propounded the Gaia hypothesis: Earth as a living, largely self-regulating organism.
To mark Earth Day this year, New York Times science writer Ferris Jabr penned an essay in which, with 50 years perspective, he considered the preponderance of evidence for the Gaia theory, and concluded with a pronouncement of the prevailing scientific worldview today, with the quantum paradigm finally beginning to displace the mechanistic world view that gave rise to the Industrial Revolution:
[I]t is time to revive an idea that was once roundly mocked: the Gaia hypothesis. Conceived by the British chemist James Lovelock in the early 1970s and later developed with the American biologist Lynn Margulis, the Gaia hypothesis proposes that all the living and nonliving elements of Earth are “parts and partners of a vast being who in her entirety has the power to maintain our planet as a fit and comfortable habitat for life.”
Based on a lifetime of pervasive scientific-materialist conditioning, you might still think “How can the Earth be a living organism when it is populated by trillions of other living organisms?” The answer to this question is self-evident: the organism you label “me” is comprised of approximately ten trillion cells – nine trillion of which possess their own DNA!
Yes, that’s right – you are 90% not-you. Do you suppose that personal biome of billions of individual eukaryotes, archaea, bacteria and viruses feeding off your dead cells has any awareness of your presence?
No? Probably not. Does that mean you are not a living, breathing organism? So it is with Gaia.
What makes us human is not this community of organisms that make up our bodies, however. Instead, it is our innate ability to think of ourselves as one interdependent organism in a sprawling, totally interconnected community of diverse organisms that, together, make up our very life-source: Mother Earth. Gaia.
So Descartes got it wrong when he posited the fundamental precept for the subsequent development of modern science: “I think, therefore I am.” This rather circular reasoning is full of religious hubris.
“I think, therefore I am connected” with all that up to now has appeared to be ‘other.’ That is the more modern sensibility of interdependence. ‘Other’ then quickly takes on the appearance of Mother, our life-source and reason for being. And she is not only living, in the sense of being a fabulous, beautiful meta-organism worthy of our appreciation, she also is possessed of a soul, or spirit, to the same extent we think of ourselves as possessed of individual spirits embedded symbiotically within a collective soul, the human spirit.
Freeman Dyson, professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and one of the most skeptical scientists on Earth, says: “The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.” For him to say that the universe is a knowing entity powerfully reaffirms that the Earth is aware of us, just as we are (or can be) aware of Her.
This is the quantum leap in human consciousness that will compel us, more than any utilitarian or political motivations, to take a stand in defense of Mother Earth’s natural right to life. SHE DESERVES OUR LOVE! This is actually a form of self-love.
As Jabr reported in the pages of the ‘Grey Lady’ (NYT):
“We and all living creatures are not just inhabitants of Earth, we are Earth — an outgrowth of its physical structure and an engine of its global cycles. Although some scientists still recoil at the mention of Gaia, these truths have become part of mainstream science… If Earth breathes, sweats and quakes — if it births zillions of organisms that ceaselessly devour, transfigure and replenish its air, water and rock — and if those creatures and their physical environments evolve in tandem, then why shouldn’t we think of our planet as alive?”
It is this emerging world view of ourselves in relationship with the natural world, with which we are umbilically connected by our own human nature, that is fueling the Extinction Rebellion, that is giving birth to the Sunrise Movement, that is taking root in Regeneration International, and that we aspire to with the Green New Deal. Indeed, it was taking such a stand with indigenous “Earth Protectors” at Standing Rock that inspired Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to run for office in the first instance.
And ironically enough, given Descartes’ grounding of his separatist world view in religion, it is this ecopsychological world view that informs Pope Francis’ revolutionary encyclical, beginning with his observation that “our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.” As the Pontiff then alerts us, “[t]his sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her…”
That is climate trauma, beautifully evoked by a man who takes his inspiration and name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology.
Our violent assault on our sister and mother, the biosphere of which we ourselves are an integral part, in its present, largely unacknowledged state has us trapped in a fight, fright and flight spiral that is precariously playing out on a global stage. All that is at stake is everything we have known. Life itself hangs precariously in the balance before all our astonished, disbelieving eyes. Not disbelief that it has come to this; but rather, disbelief that we are not responding in kind to this looming, existential threat.
Now, about that bookmark. The pathway to recovery from this collective, shared trauma is paved with quantum awareness, which I will define for you as follows:
Our innate ability to view ourselves in relationship with our mother, Anima Mundi, whose very elements of saltwater, air and ‘mater’ (root word for both matter and mother) make up our bodies; in relationship with our brothers and sisters, whose shared DNA traces us all back to one tribe in Africa; and, in relationship with all those ‘other’ beings which our indigenous elders here on Turtle Island refer to quite simply and beautifully as “all our relations.”
When we take these relations into our broke-open, awakening hearts, when we cultivate this awareness of how every decision we make has a butterfly-effect on the interconnected world we inhabit, then – as Jane Goodall says – billions of us will start “making ethical choices in the impact [we] make every day.” We will become her protectors, and we will turn sharply off this road to perdition onto a healing path of recovery. For every action we take with quantum awareness, there will be what Einstein termed “spooky action at a distance.” We ourselves will become “quantum activists.”
You see, there is more than one way to collapse a quantum wave.
This is the newly emerging, quantum world view that is uniting us in defense of Mother Earth. This is Her #MeToo moment.
We have been objectifying and abusively exploiting Her all along based on a flawed, religious and entirely unnatural worldview that has now been proven false. Once we resurrect Anima Mundi from her premature, industrial-militarized grave, once we acknowledge the source of our life and all life as a living, sentient organism that we are all still umbilically connected to, we will resurrect human nature itself, and forevermore express our true nature in intimate relationship with the natural world.
As NYT science reporter Jabr reminds us:
“Humans are the brain — the consciousness — of the planet. We are Earth made aware of itself. Viewed this way, our ecological responsibility could not be clearer.”
No more crimes against nature will be tolerated.
P.S. Gaia loves you.