By: Jorge Angel Orizaga Miquelajáuregui
Environment and Society
I have noticed, as the course has advanced, that it is real what has being said about different people having different conceptions of the environment, and nothing has concerned my spirit the way that this learning has. Please don’t get my idea the wrong way for I do not attack freedom of opinion or cultural diversity, since I am very fond of this two aspects of human culture and I do my best to encourage them every day. My concern lies on how difficult can sometimes be to get into accordance with different people about environmental subjects. Since I have been studying philosophy as well as environmental engineering, I have become quite strict in the methods of obtaining valuable information, organizing, analyzing, describing and debating, that most of my discussions end when I try to define the terms to be used in the debate and I see some people getting bored, showing few interest or not understanding some of the definitions. This course has helped me improve my tolerance, and showed me how much work has to be done in the matter of environmental education and action; starting from the foundations of human conception of nature itself.
Again, I do not try to strictly define terms, but to meet the elemental causes of discern and offer particular definitions to particular elements playing roles in the object of discussion. As an intelligent person I won’t approach culturally different people to try to impose my occidental/academic terms so we can have a discussion; I first listen to find elements to which I can do analogies in order to introduce, in every ones own understandable words, the elements which I consider of relevance in the description/analysis/solution of the object of discussion.
Even in different cultures around the world in different ages, cultures of which we have no proof that they have had contact, have somehow similar elements in their mythical tales on creation and life. Even in more recent ages with new religions and advanced scientific methods of inquiry, some elements that have been used from ancient times to describe elements in every days life, have a place and are considered maybe with fancy technical words and different epistemological methods, but finally we meet the same elemental figures that still determine every days life.
The recent concerns around the world on environmental responsibility do not fill the expectations I have on the concrete actions that need to be taken. I see much hypocrisy from some groups, who use terms such as green, ecological or organic only in their marketing campaigns and not in their concrete actions. Many political groups and transnational enterprises are flashing a green flag which many times it is just a distracter and a bad example.
I consider myself lucky of having the opportunity of studying the evolution of human understanding of life from two different methods of approaching reality: philosophy and science. From those disciplines I have learned that human conceptions of nature are constantly changing throughout time, but also that if something does not fit in the understanding that contextual philosophy and science have on reality, the philosopher/scientist gets shut up by whatever means necessary.
In my engineering formation, I have learned how every element in a system is connected with other elements, with the help of many great minds that have contributed to science I have understood through mathematics that any change in one element, not mattering how small this change is, will have effects on other elements to which this first element is interconnected. From philosophy I have learned how human understanding of reality is determined by their temporal/spatial context. Joining together these two disciplines I can feel myself in a context of fast paced changes, advancing science and technology, and degradation of the concept of human beings.
I use the term degradation because I have so much about how the scientific revolution has brought changes to human lives but I see today’s aspect of the Planet and I have trouble discerning whether those changes have brought good or bad. My answer draws more to the second option, every time I see how these changes from industrial revolution focus on giving advantages to few people, disadvantages to other and damages to all; makes me feel angry that the few use their advantages to hide/forget the damages caused, and don’t notice how the disadvantaged got to their situation.
Personally, I try to live a simplelife, being one of the few who inherited material and intellectual advantages from industrial revolution, even though I have enjoyed every opportunity this advantage has given me. My father studied veterinary medicine and owns cattle and fruit tree ranches so I have been raised in direct contact with nature, science and poverty. Also hurts my spirit seeing ranch employees, people who didn’t get the full benefits of the modern society, admiring the modern ways of life and trying to get involved into the modern ways of understanding and exploiting the planet. They don’t want to be left behind anymore in this constant evolution of lifestyle on the Planet, they consider themselves equally worthy of participating in the new market ways, products consumption, bad management of wastes and contributing to increase pollution. Aren’t they (the poor), in their full right of having the lifestyle of Europeans, or wealthy Mexicans? How can I explain to someone that everything I do has a terrible impact on environment and still I won’t stop doing it, but he/she shouldn’t do it?
Even though these different sides of the system the poor and I stand on, I do not see much difficult on getting in accordance in pointing out specific elements on today’s society that contribute to the increasing damage of human impact on the earth. Then, why does it happen that when I try to get to accordance with people on the same side of the system as I am nearly everyone gives a different example and instead of getting into accordance of hierarchies everyone argues into the importance of the example each one gave?, me included.
Is it so that modern philosophy and science context, has brought so much freedom of opinion that cultural diversity tends to vanish? From a sensitive point of view it is. Sometimes I think that modern philosophy and science context is acting on weakening the delicate barriers of cultural diversity. To set a simple example, the tendency to a full racial mixture in the planet after maybe a couple millions of year after globalization, kind of like how equilibrium is the tendency or the condition of almost every physical or chemical process.
I do not want to spoil the party for everyone, just for the few V.I.P.’s that are eating the cake as fast as they can since modern mindsets have erased the element of mystery in their lives and planted a fake trigger that they call End of the World. Now 2011, 15 years ago it was called Year Two Thousand, 15 years earlier it was called Nineteen Eighty nine and this mindset has been encouraged by few tyrants and believed by a whole bunch of people (I won’t use adjectives this time).
The belief of an end of the world is the mystery element of our modern society, once religion gets displaced by science and existence can be explained by physics and chemistry. Even in that same mindset, a humble observant who only takes place in the huge biochemical process of life, can find some elements in the construction of reality that harmonically meets elements of mythology and religion. I don’t intend in getting into surrealist conclusions, such as the one before, but to revive the childhood spirit in humanity, which is common for every culture and social system.
I was raised an atheist, without a God, and still my father spoke about atheism being not real since it implies the not existence of God when there could not be not existence without existence. This made no confusion to my mind; maybe beacues as a child I could accept duality as an element in my reality without it being contradictory. Still with all the science and philosophy based answers I got from my father when I was a child, I still secretly feared pointing at the stars and killing animals since in my head lived the possibility for that animal to be some dead relative of mine.
To most people nowadays, and I know this because I’ve analyzed their discourse, think that my childhood beliefs (as well as mythology and ancient religions) are a product of ignorance and superstition. Whether or not such beliefs are real is not relevant, I just want to point out how those beliefs imply respect to those real things that allowed our existence (our Grandparents, the Water, the Earth, the Sun) and he who has this ser of beliefs will do nothing to harm those Grandparents, Water, Earth, Sun, et cetera.
A great difference from modern belief system this is, because modern “standards of living” have so much damaging impact on Water and Earth that if our Grandparents were here they would spank our butts.
The capacity to adapt, that human power that according to evolutionists has brought us to the top of the food chain, is double-edged blade when society is divided the way it is in our days. The constant conditioning of artificial, material elements in our daily lifestyle, sets a comfort zone like the one Peter Sloterdijk writes about, that imprints into the children the mindset that the dominant group dictates in order to keep the system the way it is.
In the last two years I have been reviving my childhood spirit, remembering the teaching of my Grandparents, allowing the mystery back into my life, finding that child time’s state of mind when respect to the environment was natural to me, it seemed the right way. With a complete overview of what I learn from philosophy and science I no longer doubt in saying that I was right as a child. Somehow, without really understanding, I knew; and without having a statistical or scientific proof y had faith in what I was doing (living with humility and showing respect) was the right thing to do.