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The reduction of the world to resources is killling the planet

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Response to "The Beginning" a post by Robert Reich at Substack


19 August 2022

Dear Mr. Reich,

Your essay really strikes a chord with me and once again its most appreciated.

How all these paths intertwine. I have to add my father and his family were from a farm family in Scranton and he ended up attending Princeton University on the GI Bill. Later my father would be one of the "mad men" working on Madison Avenue in NYC and raising his family in Greenwich Connecticut.

My understanding was It was an economic high point in the 60s and 70s and the over riding sense was anything was possible and that "natural resources" were limitless (as long as you didnt listen to hippies and take the talk about a possible gas shortage seriously). At this point in my life (60) its clear this attitude regarding nature and the idea of nature as a resource has done a good deal of damage to the USA and the western world. What I keep coming back to in my work and life - the philosopher Martin Heidigger wrote at the close of WW2 - ""the reduction of the the natural world to resources for production and consumption is THE CRISIS of modernity. Its consequences include a loss of the sacred, the violation of nature, and the destructioin of our home". Ultimately it is whats been called "the dream of the western world" which many of us live by - that success is measured in money and property and material wealth and that nature and the natural world have little intrinsic value or meaning to us as human beings and to the way our societies define success.

America has its problems and the Democrats have their problems just read where it all started with An Indigenous History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - this was our starting point (and none of it was taught in US schools to my generation). We are still coming to terms as a nation with these issues.

We are a generation living through a tragedy (both politically and culturally and environmentally) unlike anything our parents or grandparents experienced. In my opinion its a kind of reckoning, a kind of lesson, to the way we have treated eachother and the way we have treated the planet.

Ultimately I predict we will succeed politically and culturaly and environmentally though this may well be at massive cost of human suffering and (as Charles Eisenstein writes) "when we realize the importance of those things we'd relegated to a low priority: the mangrove swamps, the deep aquifers, the sacred sites, the biodiversity hotspots, the virgin forests, the elephants and the whales...all the beings that in mysterious ways ,invisible to our numbers, maintain the balance of our living planet. Then will we realize that as we do to any part of nature, so inescapably, we do to ourselves." This journey will not be easy for the current generation and even harder for generations to come and it will require strength. Hopefully we will all of us get through and learn (and dare I write transform) from all of the above and become better human beings for it.

Dying Planet graph
Living Planet Image


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