Ethical, Spiritual Renewal Needed to Save Our Civilization

By Harrington, Bob | CCPA Monitor, March 2010 | Go to article overview

Ethical, Spiritual Renewal Needed to Save Our Civilization


Harrington, Bob, CCPA Monitor


THE EASTER ISLAND WARNING:

Problems of climate collapse, planetary degradation, and the need for population reduction are real. The Copenhagen Climate Conference last December exposed the vast ecological ignorance of the world's political and business leaders. Instead of mounting a world-wide effort to stop the destruction of Earth's ecosphere, they perversely chose to maintain a greed-driven economic system that is causing most of the ecological damage.

In a paper produced for a journal on technology and science, Dr. W.E. Rees (UBC) warns that our society may "follow the lead" of Easter Island, in that "unsustainability" is quite possibly an emergent property of the systemic interaction between technoindustrial society and the ecosphere.

He suggested that "a genetic predisposition for unsustainability is encoded in human physiology and springs from the very nature(s) of homo sapiens." Our entire civilization may thus be approaching the fate of the inhabitants of Easter Island.

Their collapse into savagery was described by Jared Diamond (1995) in Discover magazine: "In just a few centuries, the people of Easter Island wiped out their forests, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their complex society spiral into chaos and cannibalism. Are we about to follow their lead?"

When Dutch Admiral Roggeveen "discovered" Easter Island in 1722, he found remnants of its society living in caves and reed huts, fallen into cannibalism, and barely surviving on a desolate, infertile landscape.

Reflection suggests that, if the Easter Islanders had properly treasured their forest resources, they would still have been able to build boats to harvest fish and thereby avert their self-inflicted decline and fall. Today we face the same bleak future on a global scale if we fail to awaken from our own materialistic nightmare.

Means for the renewal of civilization were outlined in The Philosophy of Civilization, written by Dr. Albert Schweitzer in 1949, and earlier in his The Decay and Restoration of Civilization (1923). Schweitzer reflected that the focus on technology, wealth, and economic control has been a blunder. Spiritual insight, a long-time characteristic of human society, had been stifled by the profit-making fixation adopted by business since the 19th century.

Schweitzer called for spiritually minded individuals to restore civilization by breaking loose, individually and concertedly, from their industrial fetters. He stressed the need to work for improved education, for a return to artisanship, for community rebirth, and strong localized economies.

With doctoral degrees in theology, philosophy, and medicine, followed by a devoted life, Schweitzer (1875-1965) received a Nobel Prize for his work with natives at Lambaréné in Africa, and used the prize money to build a leprosy hospital there. His life and thought sustained a philosophy based on a reverence for life which was first expressed in a sermon at St. Nicolai's Church in Strasbourg on February 16, 1919. His philosophical writing deserves serious thought and study. He saw a reverence for life as an extension of the sixth commandment: "Thou shalt not kill."

I found a common thread in reading about Schweitzer's life in Lambaréné. When he preached in the chapel there, a reputedly untamable African wild boar, with the unlikely name of Josephine, stood beside him.

In a somewhat similar fashion, Linda and I developed a relationship with a bear. One late winter day, a yearling black bear, perhaps starved out of hibernation, weakly stumbled over the snow toward our compost bin and began pawing through it in search of food. Linda put together a meal of oatmeal, dates, and bacon fat, and after eating part of this repast he ambled over to an old shed on our property and made it his den. We continued to feed him for about a month. When skunk cabbages began ripening in the spring, the young bear fed among them; and then, one day, we found the bear and our large dog aggressively facing each other. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ethical, Spiritual Renewal Needed to Save Our Civilization
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.