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"The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think."
Gregory Bateson

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Corporatism, Objectivism, and Their Clash with Natural Systems

Dave Ewoldt, February 2005

   Good evening, and thank you all for attending the screening of this powerful documentary on Peak Oil and suburbia, and for sticking around for the forum and discussion.

   My name is Dave Ewoldt, and I'm the co-founder and executive director of Attraction Retreat, a local non-profit that was chartered to provide public education and health services. These services are based on applying the model nature uses to create and sustain healthy, thriving ecosystems, because this model provides the metaphors we need to create lifestyles and social systems that also exhibit the same intelligence and harmony. We ground our work in applied ecopsychology, which examines the psychological roots of the environmental crisis. We facilitate helping people remember how to think and act the way that nature works.

   A few of our basic assumptions are that we come from the Earth, and we depend upon the Earth for our sustenance. Due to the interconnected nature of reality, what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. The Earth does not belong to humans, humans belong to the Earth. We're currently destroying and depleting natural resources faster than they can be renewed which is leading to ecocide, which is an indirect form of suicide. Deliberately destroying one's life support system is a form of insanity. Since our physical bodies are gifts from Mother Nature, so that we may live within her home, I implore you to ask yourself if this is the proper way for guests to treat their host?

   With that brief bit of background, I see industrialism, or the other terms it is known by, such as predatory capitalism, the global monetocracy, or corporatism as being an emergent property, or as derived from, the dominator paradigm which depends on force-based ranking hierarchies, competition, transcendence, exploitation, and destruction. This mindset is diametrically opposed to a form of social democracy which sees the Earth as an equal in a partnership paradigm based on cooperation, nurturance, and creation. The partnership paradigm finds its power in the ability to give life, not to take life; it is not based on power over, but on power with. The shift from a self-destructive industrial growth culture of exploitation and domination to a just, equitable, and life sustaining partnership culture based on attraction relationships of cooperation and compassion constitutes the intellectual and spiritual challenge of our time.

   One of the accepted frames of our current social system is the logical, rational view that is backed by scientific data. If something can't be measured and quantified, it isn't real; it doesn't exist. Feelings and dreams are said to have no place in the real world.

   This mere purposive rationality distorts our innate morality and causes grievous harm to the world, as shown by the attitudes of atomic weapons workers at Los Alamos. They complain about people in the Nuclear Freeze movement as being too emotional. Such emotions are taboo at Los Alamos, because they call into question behaviors that are elaborately rationalized by thought alone.

   A question to ask yourself -- does the sheer amount of facts and information generated to explain nature ever satisfy the yearning to experience our connection to nature? The yearning for connectedness is very different from the yearning for knowledge. Unfortunately, too many of us allow objectivist science to both define and explain nature to us, and we thus equate these two yearnings.

   Gregory Bateson calls our contemporary perception of human knowledge a crisis of the mind. He says the only way out is a spiritual, intellectual, and emotional revolution in which, finally, we learn to experience, through direct contact, the interlooping connections between person and person, organism and environment, action and consequence.

   The objective, scientific viewpoint, that tends to stand separate from the things it studies, excises its language of explanation from all symbolic, metaphorical, emotional, and moral context. But doesn't this vacate our consciousness? The spiritual approach is crucial to the health of the individual, but it is individualistic and subjective. In the scientific viewpoint, it is not useful for describing reality. But this also implies that objective reality only shows itself when we mask an essential aspect of our whole being. When we use only one small part of our whole being, we are incomplete, and we base our understanding of nature on the separated rational part, and our understanding is thus incomplete as well.

   The objective, scientific viewpoint cannot perceive the perspective of the whole because the objectivists insist on using only a portion of their whole being. Since ecology is the study of systems, of the relationships within those systems, the "science of ecology" is actually an oxymoron. That is why, to truly understand all of our senses, all of our intimate and interdependent attraction relationships to the natural world, spiritual ecology is not only a better term to use, it will get us much closer to a full and complete understanding of ourselves and the world we live in than the "science of ecology" can ever hope to.

   The objectivist viewpoint puts a perceptual buffer between our conscious thoughts and our heartfelt connection to nature. This buffer has become a weapon put in place to defend us from our own feelings; from our rightful place within the community of nature and from even being able to fully experience our natural sense of community to each other.

   We invent elaborate rational justifications to cover up and deny our wrong-doings. Our entire economic structure is based on this frame of self-deception. The greatest danger to our world is not from terrorists, but from moral, law-abiding citizens who enjoy their SUVs, their Bahamas' cruises, and their burgers and fries without knowing where these pleasures come from or what they cost. Not their price at the store, but the cost of the effects of their production and use; what they do to our world... to our collective soul.

   This causes deep internal conflict, but we've developed complex, strong and subtle taboos against speaking about it or even seeing it. The intelligent and proper response means to go along with the status quo, to participate and remain complicit in the consensus trance the way an alcoholic family does--everything's just fine... there's no problem here. But when we don't speak up, when we deny the truth of inner knowing, we do ourselves and the world real harm.

   Today we posses both great knowledge and technical abilities. With the Hubble telescope we can peer out to the greatest reaches; with the electron microscope we can peer into the smallest spaces. But at the same time we are also causing more damage than ever before. Species are going extinct, we're seeing ecosystems collapse at a global scale. Our Industrial Growth Society depends on increasing the consumption of resources. We don't want to hear what's at stake by burning fossil fuels and dumping toxic wastes; of seeing the world as both an endless supply of resources and a bottomless pit for garbage and waste.

   Our goal at Attraction Retreat is quite simple: we want to help people save the world, and make people feel better about themselves while doing so. One of the assumptions we make is that only by making people not only feel better, but feel better about themselves will we be able to both save and fully savor our world. The process we use to reach this goal is also quite simple, as well as very effective. It is a way to reconnect all of our multiplicity of senses to their roots in Nature. These senses are the attraction relationships that have evolved in us to keep us connected to the joy and beauty of being alive.

   When we understand, as well as sensuously experience, that Nature is the source of wisdom and health, we will not willingly be a party to its exploitation and destruction. Through this holistic reconnection we then realize that each time we harm Nature, we cut out a piece of our own flesh. When we are complicit in the destruction of our life support system, we decrease our human potential to increase both our wisdom and our creativity--we stunt or even reverse our very evolution.

   The wisdom of many nature-centered peoples revolves around the interconnectedness of all things. Many Native American elders, for example, talk about the relationship humans have with the Other, no matter what term you're most comfortable with using to express this creative life force, or whatever that Other might be or how it came to be. If we don't respect the Earth, or her many abundant resources, we won't respect each other, or even ourselves. This is not an outdated primitive philosophy. Calling for a return to this way of thinking and knowing is not a call to chop our own wood, to carry water from the stream, or to dance around with feathers stuck in our butts (and my apologies to those of you who do gain meaning as well as receive benefits from these rituals). But it is a call to return to who we really are. Because, only in this way is it truly possible to evolve into who we really should be.

   In our very human quest for answers, meaning, and certainty, we ignore the one certainty that we can grab ahold of in the here and now--that based on 14 billion years of evidence, the universe is friendly to life and its evolution.

   If you would like to schedule an introductory consultation session or arrange a presentation or workshop for your group, please contact or give Dave or Allison, co-founders of Attraction Retreat, a call at (360) 756-7998.


"You didn't come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here."
Alan Watts


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