The Question...ID: 474
posted: 18 Jun 2000
updated: 01 Apr 2002
I am a Junior majoring in History and was assigned Ishmael as reading for my geology class. It is one of the most amazing books I have ever read. I too, feel the exact same way about what we are doing to the planet. However, i feel totally overwhelmed at the task of doing something about it, especially in the US, where it's almost trendy to convert the earth into a playground for the rich and affluent, and screw anyone or anything else that gets in its way. . . . I don't think joining Greenpeace or EarthFirst! is doing enough, do you? Who or what can you get involved with that will make people listen?????? Or maybe I'm not getting the point of Ishmael after all. I don't know. Just the same, things need to change. But how?
Isn't it interesting that a student majoring in history should read a text in his geology class that changes his vision of human history? Your history teachers have an investment in Mother Culture's version of human history, so the task of changing your mind about it falls to . . . a geology teacher. I'm not rambling here, I'm trying to draw your attention to the answer to your questions.
We've become the destroyers of the earth because we've been driven by a fundamental misunderstanding of how the earth works and of our place in it, and we'll continue to be the destroyers of the earth for as long as this misunderstanding prevails. If you have a chance to read my other books, you'll read in THE STORY OF B this statement, "If the world is saved, it will not be saved by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all."
EarthFirst! and GreenPeace are fine programs, but they're fundamentally reactive--they wait for bad things to happen, then they fight against them. In ten years or twenty years, it will be your generation's actions that they'll be fighting against--but suppose you don't present them with anything to fight against? We don't need more people who will fight, we need more people who don't need to be fought against. Or to put it another way, EarthFirst! and GreenPeace are forever chopping away at the weed (and this is good), but we've got to kill the root that produces the weed. Until we do that, the weed will just keep growing back.
I have no new program to give you. What I have to give you is a new understanding of the problem, and this you must share with the people around you. You can't "make" people listen, but there are plenty of people out there who WILL listen--just as you did. When his student said, "Yes, but what should I DO?," Ishmael wasn't kidding when he said, "Teach a hundred people what I've taught you, and urge each of them to teach a hundred more."
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