Wisdom in thinking and action is not something difficult or even new for human beings. It’s actually quite natural for people to think “eco-logically” – in terms of processes, relationships, values and communities. This is how Nature works, and how our brains evolved to think, over the ages.
Among human communities, we find the ecological view most developed with tribal societies that have maintained direct contact with the natural world. Their cultures and spiritual beliefs view Nature as mother, the Earth as home. Their thinking is highly visual, less conceptual and not as ego-centric as “modern” humans.
Since the dawn of the agricultural revolution, more technologically “advanced” people developed cultures and value systems where the world has been compartmentalized, conquered and divided into pieces. We tend to think of ourselves as nations, races and individuals, separate from one another and superior to the Natural world that surrounds us.
While we’ve become more technologically advanced there is little evidence that “civilized” humans have become any wiser. As Gregory Bateson put it, “The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.”
For traditional hunter-gatherer societies, education is a shared community responsibility, and material wealth is not so important. Work was something creative that was done with family and friends, not for money, but for the positive benefits of the work itself.
When our ancestors needed something they didn’t go to a supermarket to buy it. They hunted, gathered or created what they needed with their own hands, from natural materials obtained directly from the forests, fields, rivers and oceans that surrounded them.
Then they offered thanks to Nature, showing respect for the plants, rivers and other animals. Viewing Nature as Mother, tribal people would never think of polluting her waters, tearing down forests and depriving other animals of their homes.
Seeing all humans as members of one family- sisters and brothers to other species- they wouldn’t accept lifestyles that created great hardship for fellow creatures and people in other communities. Their ecological worldview leads to a completely different set of values and actions.
Take any major problem that humans struggle with today and chances are that its interdependently linked to our economic values, our consumer-centric cultures and the reductionistic ways “civilized” people have come to think and behave.
We’ve become like bees or ants who spend most of their time in their hives, thinking the ways of the hive are the ways of the world. But they’re not. We are children of Nature first and foremost, and we need to develop greater understanding of that.
Most of the problems we see on our planet right now can be solved- we just need to work together, behave more wisely, care about one another, be more creative, less materialistic… and think more ecologically.
Everything can change for the better, once the human family gets back in tune with the Ways of Nature.
Creative Systems Thinking
* The Circle of Courage – Native American Model of Education * How Wisdom Grows – Educating Hearts & Minds * How The Babemba Tribe Forgives * Systems Thinking – Rediscovering Nature’s Paradigm * Perpetual Curse of the Warrior Mindset * The Universe is One Harmonious Whole * Systems Thinking: Seeing How Everything is Connected * How We Participate in the Creative Life of the Universe *