What is YOUR relationship with the Non-Human World??
We humans have many facets to our identity: All the facets that make us who we really are? And today I’ll introduce one of your identity facets that you may have neglected, yet is so fundamental to life as a human on this Planet:Your Environmental Identity (This originally having been defined by S Clayton in the book “Environmental Identity: A conceptual and an operational definition”
Defined as a ‘sense of connection’ to some part of the non-Human. natural environment, based on history, emotional attachment, and/or similarity, that affects the ways in which we perceive and act toward the world…
Our environmental identity can be similar to another collective identity (such as a national or ethnic identity) in providing us with a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves… and with recognition of similarity between ourselves and The Other.” In the case of our Environmental Identity, that ‘Other’ is Nature and our diverse and complex, Natural Environment.
Can you maybe see an ‘Environmental Identity’ facet to your identity? If so what is that relationship for you, to the ‘non-human’ world?
Before setting off from Long Beach, I posed a few questions for pondering, and maybe in the context of seeking to understand your Environmental Identity these could be useful……….?
What exactly defines Nature for you?
Where is the demarcation line between Nature and Human life?
Are we Humans part of Nature, or are we a special ‘species’ outside Nature?
If we ARE part of Nature, what are our Roles, Rights, and Responsibilites in ‘The Scheme’ of Nature?
Was this Planet given to Humans to use merely as a short term, ‘test ground’ in the qualification process for some ‘higher eternal prize’?
Are disease, sickness, even Hurricane Lester(!) some form of ‘evil’, ‘flaw’ or intervention designed by ‘someone’ with ‘remedial purpose’ against ‘wrong doers’?
If ‘God’ made ‘it all’, what role does ‘he’ expect from us in relation to its use and preservation?
Silly questions, or maybe not so silly?
After years of discussing, observing, and listening to what my fellow humans think and have found their answers to be, I realise that these are ‘not so silly’.
I wonder what your ‘finding and answers are? Have you asked yourself these questions? Does this help you work out your ‘Environmental Identity’..?
As Clayton points out one should try to see this Nature relationship issue as ‘just another one of our ’me / other’ relationships and explore the ‘basis of belonging’ in that realtionship.
From the same paper, Schulz helps clarify:
“Environmental concern is tied to a person’s notion of self and the degree to which people define themselves as independent, interdependent with other people, or interdependent with all living things. From this perspective, concern for environmental issues is an extension of the interconnectedness between two people.”
As much as most of ‘us’ want to deny it ‘The Facts’ show that the dominant ‘style of relationship’ humans have had with Nature is one of a very strong Anthropocentric form which you can read more about here.
Taken off Wikipedia, Anthropocentric is defined as “A philosophical viewpoint where human beings are the central or most significant entities in the universe (or world)”.
Where are you on the Anthropocentric scale? Zero being that you believe humans are just one of the many equal inhabitants of the planet, to Ten, being you believe what Genesis chapter 1, verse 23 essentially says: The Planet and Nature has been created for Humans, for Humans to Use, and Enjoy/
Twenty years ago I used to be about an 8, and now with still some work to go, I sense I’m hovering around 2 or 3! (10 is max!)
Maybe as you explore you find, that for this to be useful, you need a clearer picture of ‘what’ you define as ‘Nature’?
I often hear people say they are heading off to Nature? I say: “But I’m here in Nature?” They look at me strangely and say: “No you’re not, we are in a big city. How can we be in Nature?” To which I add: “But you are still breathing the air, your body is functioning as a human! How do you think the air stays the right oxygen / nitrogen ration all the time? It’s windy, and going to rain here tonight, how does that work? Ooh, and all those trees…. and did you see that bird fly by? Best you get home before sunset too – it’s going to be cold after dark!”
The travel magazines are full of ways you can ‘buy a Nature experience:. One specially created by humans, to make money from Nature, so we can live our high consumption lives on the other side of The Chasm from Nature? Just move around with an exploring mind and you’ll be amazed how we present our relationship with Nature as something that’s separate from us and exotic, and it’s usually about taking from Nature for our happiness and pleasure. What do we give back?
All simple stuff but, yet I have found this type of questioning important to contextualize my definition of Nature, and my Environmental Identity.
I hear you say: “But why should this even be of interest to me? I know who I am. I know where I belong, so what is this new identity and belonging issue all about?”
It was clear to many that this is about a fundamental human need, part of our spiritual needs: A belonging need that is ‘Beyond human Belonging’, some larger, more mysterious holistic Earthly belonging.
We all ‘use’ Nature and depend on it for every life second! Yet many of us have no conscious relationship with Nature. We just take it all for granted, and yet we all know that any relationships where we depend on the other, needs contextual understand, nurturing and mutual respect. Surely we need to understand this relationship as it is almost the most fundamental human relationship, and ultimate earthly belonging need.
I’m sure nobody can disagree that:
Without Nature we (humans) are Nothing….
Nature gives us the very basis for life, and understanding this as a relationship, at minimum provides us with our fundamental ‘Earthly Belonging’ context. Beyond that, a deeper understanding has the possibility for the most tangible, transcendental / spiritual relationship context for all Humans.
I see as getting back to One Point Zero as ‘very simply’ an issue of deciding about correcting our fundamental Human relationship with Nature or not….? And in that sense, there are no half measures.
That’s the beauty of One Point Zero: It takes Global warming, Capitalism, Nature, Humanity, and makes everything clearly fit in One united and, Ultimate Meaning, Goal:
The Facts show beyond doubt, that our relationship with Nature is long broken. It will only be truly fixed again, when we are at One Point Zero!: Living within the ecological capacity of just One Planet. Today we need a Planet that is more than 60% larger than the one we live on: Planet Earth, our home. How can we say we belong on Earth?
Accepting a Goal for Humanity of anything less onerous than One Point Zero, would be fooling ourselves that we are solving ‘our problem’. The minimum condition for belonging, and repairing our relationship with Nature is One Point Zero.
We humans are already paying the ‘non-Belonging’ price, and each day as The Chasm in our relationship increases, each day the price and consequences of the broken relationship become greater.
That ‘Our Problem‘ is ‘Merely a Relationship Problem’, is a huge understatement statement for a seemingly complex problem. But this is the Real Problem, and it will be the final driver of our decision to change to a path towards One Point Zero or not! Once we understand it, we will see that it is a Moral and Ethical call for us living Humans and Future generations. Its a condition for all human existence.
You may ask: “So what about ‘God’ and Religion? Where do they fit in?”
I don’t see this Nature / Human relationship context as being in conflict with any religious beliefs and contexts, as surely this is about the ‘spiritual’ (Beyond human) context of our earthly existence? Irrespective of who its creator is deemed to be, surely we need a fully functioning, healthy earthly relationship context for our earthly existence?
Maybe THE ‘creator’ of our planet, set this ‘Nature game’ up, to see how us humans can live within the rules of The Game or not! ‘The creator’ gave us humans the capabilities to be able to destroying ourselves, but also the capability to know when we are on a path to doing that, and should change direction. But to be mindful of that situation one needs to be spiritually developed, and understand our beyond human, Environmental Identity issues.
Maybe its now time for ‘Us’ to take off our Anthropocentric armoury? To accept the liberating submission to Nature!
Let’s try and get everyone working together, as good ‘little Nature’s creatures’, guys! Losing this game is not just embarrassing, it’s eating the soul of Humanity!