Desmond Berghofer’s Blog, GrandparentsForTheFuture “tells how humanity strove to become a controlling force over nature. It is not a noble story; but neither can it be said to be an ignoble story. It is a mixed blessing”
“When seemingly unlimited sources of energy were discovered and combined with human ingenuity, a powerful new civilization spread around the world. We called it industrialism and today it denominates everything,” says Berghofer.
From Industrialism to Capitalism
Industrialism became a new way of being on the Earth—one that could more fully exploit the bounty of nature. Sustained and accelerated by new concepts of specialized productive labour producing goods for sale in free markets, it came to be known as capitalism. A new discipline, economics, developed….The idea of limits was not compatible with a new-found sense of progress. The new discipline of economics was embraced by politicians, industrialists and business leaders. Their minds were bemused into believing that civilization could defy the cycles and constraints of nature and surge forward into the future as a flood of never ending growth. Again, it seemed, except for periodic setbacks, to work well. Until we reached the 21st century.
Now evidence abounds that industrialism as we have known it is not sustainable very much further into the future….But for those of us who have a mind to care about what lies in store for our grandchildren the question is, ‘Which way do we go from here?’
Ecotheology – The Dream of the Earth
Berghofer believes that the answer to that question lies in the Science of Ecology, or Ecology as a determinant of human destiny. He refers to Thomas Berry’s collection of essays (1988) published under the title The Dream of the Earth.
“Our secular, rational, industrial society, with its amazing scientific insights and technological skills, has established the first radically anthropocentric society and has therefore broken the primary law of the universe, the law of the integrity of the universe. . . now suddenly, we begin to experience disaster on a scale never before thought possible.”
“We are changing the chemistry of the planet. We are altering the great hydrological cycles. We are weakening the ozone layer that shields us from cosmic rays. We are saturating the air, the water, and the soil with toxic substances so that we can never bring them back to their original purity. We are upsetting the entire earth system that has, over some billions of years and through an endless sequence of experiments, produced such a magnificent array of living forms, forms capable of seasonal self-renewal over an indefinite period of time.”
“The disastrous consequences [of our attitude and behaviour] on the integral functioning of the earth [and] on our human destiny. . . are now becoming manifest. The day of reckoning has come. In this disintegrating phase of our industrial society.”
“Two radical positions—the industrial and the ecological—confront each other, with survival at stake: survival of the human at an acceptable level of fulfillment on a planet capable of providing the psychic as well as the physical nourishment that is needed. No prior struggle in the course of human affairs ever involved such issues at this order of magnitude.”
The Great Work: Our Way into the Future (1999)
“The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet as in a mutually beneficent manner.”
In Berry’s sense of history, civilization moves forward through epochal moments, when conditions have regressed into a “Dark Age” of ignorance and new generations step forward to lead humanity out of its impasse…We cannot doubt that we too have been given the intellectual vision, the spiritual insight, and even the physical resources we need for carrying out the transition that is demanded of these times.”
“In such an inspired vision lies the best hope for our grandchildren. Every one of us has a role to play—and we are never acting alone, but in unison, in a “capacity for relatedness,” which is woven into the fabric of the universe in a wondrous dance of participation,” says Berghofer.
Questions to Ask
Buckminster Fuller – “If the success or failure of this planet, and of human beings, depended on how I am and what I do, how would I be? What would I do?”
Dr Joanna Macey – “recognize that denial itself is the greatest danger we face. We have the technology to make sweeping and effective changes. But not much can be done until we’re ready to acknowledge the situation we’re in.”
Al Gore – “Not too many years from now, a new generation will look back at us in this hour of choosing and ask one of two questions. Either they will ask, ‘What were you thinking? Didn’t you see the entire North Polar ice cap melting before your eyes? . . . Or they will ask instead, ‘How did you find the moral courage to rise up and solve a crisis so many said was impossible to solve?’”
Desmond Berghofer – “But how, exactly, is a confused industrial culture going to find that path?”