By Dr. Michael W. Fox
Senior Scholar, Eioethics
The Humane Society of the United States
The human species has a dual nature, half demonic and half angelic. Possessing such a chimeric nature, with capacity to bring good or evil into the world, makes the human species a unique member of the animal kingdom, Other animal and non-animal species, by virtue of their innate proclivities and limitations, have contributed over the millennia to the maintenance, balance, diversity and harmony of the life, ecology and beauty of planet Earth. But the proclivities of the human species have been temporarily unfettered from Nature's self -limiting constraints by the social-organizational, intellectual, and more recent technological capacities of our species. These proclivities range from the reproductive to the industrial, commercial- productive. The unfettering is temporary because in the absence of self-constraint, and obedience to the ethical and moral principles derivative of natural law, the planetary ecosystem and economy become increasingly dysfunctional. The more we harm the Earth and other life forms, the more we harm ourselves.
Ultimately, the global market. economy will collapse if its present course and value system are not changed, and those people, institutions, and nations caught up in it will super the consequences of Nature's retributive justice. Succeeding generations will be increasingly fettered by the sins of omission and commission by their predecessors that stem from ignorance and indifference to natural law, and from the evils of arrogance and greed that come from the dark or demonic side of human nature. A poisoned and sickening planet means a poisoned and sickening populace: A planet impoverished of life's beauty and diversity means an Earth community that is spiritually and culturally impoverished by the same forces of industrialism and consumerism.
All of this need not be or come to pass, but without a change in how we live and do business, it is inevitable no matter how materially secure car technologically sophisticated, certain segments of society may be. Techno-fixes, economic "recovery" and political reforms will continue to offer false hope and cause more harm than good, unless the ethics of care and the spirituality of compassion and reverence for all life prevail, which arise from the virtuous or angelic side of human nature where reason, dignity, wisdom, humility and empathy prevail.
In ignorance we have sought freedom from Nature's laws through power and control, and in the process we have lost our freedom to fully realize the innate potential for good that arises from the virtuous or angelic side of our natures.
To regain our freedom, we must rediscover what it means to be human by living in communion with all that is sacred on this living Earth. We must accept, balance, and reconcile our dual, chimeric natures and take the path of renunciation that links human liberation with environmental protection and restoration rather than destruction, and with animal liberation rather than cruel exploitation, through appropriate ethical behavior based on our reverence for all life. As medicine man Black Elk advised, "Nothing can live well except in a manner that is suited to the sacred Power of the World as it lives and moves."
A beginning for many is ethical vegetarianism and supporting humane, organic and sustainable agriculture. It is never too late to change, to make a difference, to give more than we take, to serve more than we exploit, and to live simply so that others may simply live. But as individuals we are all limited. We can do little but witness and suffer the death of Nature and the holocaust of the animals and of indigenous peoples. We may be strangers to others who live in denial, but we are not strangers to frustration and despair, to injustice and inhumanity when we embrace the sacred. The more we love, the more we must be prepared to suffer and learn how not to harm ourselves or others with our pain and rage.
Finding others of like heart and mind, those who have the courage of commitment to truth and justice, and faith in the values and ethics that they live for and, if need be, would die for, is the first step toward building communities, networks, and associations of concern, and effective action against the forces of evil arid inhumanity.
This all may seem counter to the "progressive" ideals of a consumer society and market economy, but if we are to survive and evolve as a species, such renunciation so that we can embrace the sacred, is, I believe, our final and only choice. If we believe that the Earth and all who dwell therein are sacred, then how should we live? How closely does the way we choose to live accord with this belief? How close can the ideal of a
sacra mentalist way of life approach the reality in which we live and work? What choices do we have to make this ideal the reality and the truth of our existence?
Renouncing the way of life of rational materialism challenges our imagination and creativity to transform out profane world and depraved existence into the reality of divine presence and co-creative participation, celebration, anal communion. This is demanding of our faith, courage, and commitment, Understood from the transcendent perspective of the
sacra mentalist, the created world is a mystery to be embraced, as an infinite source of divine revelation and as a means to spiritual ends and not as a resource and as a means to pecuniary and other selfish ends.