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ATD V-2 Video #6:

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How Did We Get Here? Worldview and Assumptions Now that we have looked squarely at where we are, a good question to ask might be: How did an intelligent well meaning species, who for the most part only wanted to make the world better and more secure for their children, end up in such a condition? What could possibly explain how we got into our current predicament? How did we get here? Someone who looked deeply at this question was Thomas Berry, a cultural historian and cosmologist who spent much of his life examining the relationship between humans and the community of life on Earth. The great work of our times, I would say is moving the human community from its present situation as a destructive presence on the planet, to a benign or mutually enhancing presence. It's that simple. Thomas Berry says that the primary problem with western civilization is that it creates and perpetuates a radical separation between the human world and the natural world - that we've given all the rights to the human and no rights to the natural world We think we're behaving very rationally, that we're on this kind of a logical economic course but actually we are heading toward our destruction. And the only way to explain this is that we've been locked into a kind of mythic entrancement a worldview that's become dysfunctional and therefore destructive. According to Thomas Berry, our industrial age could be characterized as a period of technological entrancement in which our obsession with progress has us marching toward an ill-defined magical paradise somewhere in the future a future in which we have mastered the Earth and everything on it - without any limits. And so, it could be said that we in the modern world are living in a kind of "trance". Indigenous people would call this trance "the dream of the modern world". This dream could also be called our current worldview a way of seeing the world we're not even aware that we have A worldview is held in place by a set of beliefs and unexamined assumptions that we're completely unaware of - like glasses we've worn so long, we don't even know we're looking through them anymore. People's actions correlate with their worldview. We take actions consistent with how we see the world. And often those actions produce outcomes we didn't predict or intend. So when our actions produce outcomes we're not intending, it's important to identify the unconscious, unexamined assumptions that generated those actions in the first place. All the crises we're facing today can be seen as the unintended results of the unexamined assumptions that permeate the modern industrial society and our own thinking. So lets look at some of these unexamined assumptions. One way to characterize the cosmology that really is at work in our culture is this: that the natural world, the Earth, is there for us to satisfy our needs and desires whatever they might be. So we want to make things. We use the Earth. We make things. Or we think of it as something like a lumberyard. In fact, we use the word "resource", so that the Earth is full of resources that are there for us to use as we see fit. Now that orientation actually is not that bad so long as humans are not that powerful. But suddenly, when we become so massively present, that orientation turns out to be completely pathological. You can't call a forest a resource. It's filled with amazing beings. You can't call the ocean with all those fish and the marine mammals a resource. Each of these species, is the end result of 13.7 billion years of evolution. They're spectacular; they're stupendous; they have a right to be here. So that to think of them as resources and to use them however we like is really what is driving our destruction. In a world we assume to be full of resources for our use, clear cutting a forest makes perfect sense. Another example of an unexamined assumption is that competition alone is the fundamental law of nature. But when we really look, does that assumption hold true? So much sort of pseudo-science has been done trying to show that the world is in competition Survival of the fittest and all of that. I think human beings are more prone to cooperation and compassion. If you look at the work that's being done in science, it's about cooperation. Cells must cooperate; species must cooperate. Cooperation rather than competition is the way nature works. In modern society, many of us believe that our job as "smart shoppers" is to get the highest level of comfort and convenience at the lowest possible price. We assume that when we buy something the price we pay reflect the full cost of making it. According to Annie Leonard in the Story of Stuff, maybe not. I was walking to work, and I wanted to listen to the news. I found this cute little green radio for 4 dollars and 99 cents. I was standing there in line to buy this thing, and I kept thinking, how could $4.99 capture the costs of making this radio and getting it to my hands? The metal was probably mined in South Africa; the petroleum was probably drilled in Iraq; The plastic were probably produced in China; and maybe the whole thing was assembled in Mexico. $4.99 wouldn't even pay the rent for the shelf space it occupied until I came along let alone part of the stuff guy's salary that helped me pick it out, or the multiple ocean cruises and truck rides pieces of this radio went on. That's how I realized I didn't pay for the radio. So, who did pay? Well these people paid with the loss of their natural resource base. These people paid with the loss of their clean air, with increasing asthma and cancer rate. All along this system, people pitched in so I could get this radio for $4.99. We have a lot of unexamined assumption around money. One of them is that people have equated their own value with money. Even the word success: when we say, "Are you successful?" what we mean is "Are you making money?" And it eclipses peoples' genuine worth and value. When you say you're going to throw something away, where's "away"? There's no such thing. And where 'away' actually is, is social justice issues and environmental justice issues. Every plastic bag, plastic cup, plastic to-go container that is the petroleum complex in Africa, Ecuador, Colombia, Alaska, you name it. Every paper bag, paper plate, paper napkin - that is a forest. Everything that is called waste or disposable is the ways in which we are saying that it is acceptable to throw our planet and its people away. Every day, the US throws away 137 million aluminum cans. Every day, the UK throws away 41 thousand cell phones. Every day, the US throws away 27 million paper bags. Every day, the US throws away 600 million plastic bottles. Disposable are one of the huge magnifiers of how we've lost our connection to the sacred. We just take it for granted that we're going to go to the coffee shop and get coffee that came from an exploited community somewhere where a forest was destroyed for a monoculture, put it in a paper cup that used to be a forest, put a plastic lid on top of it that used to be an indigenous community somewhere in a beautiful area, drink it, and then throw it away where it goes back and pollutes a nature community or a human community at the end. I am so fiercely passionate about it, because I know in my heart that as long as we are thrasing the planet and trashing each other, a healthy and a holistic, and a healed world is not possible. We cannot have peace on the Earth unless we also have peace with the Earth. See, we don't just have unexamined assumptions about how we relate to the planet. We have underlying assumptions that we haven't examined about how we relate to each other. We have a society that believes we have throwaway resources, throwaway species and throwaway people. The same mindset that says I can ball up this can and throw it away. The same mindset that says I can ball up this child and throw that child into a prison forever, for a mistake that that child made similar mistake to my child might be making with drugs or whatever - that's the core mindset The dream of the modern world is constructed almost entirely out of assumptions that have been simply been accepted for generations. Questioning these assumptions is a powerful way to begin to awaken from our collective trance.

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 27 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 1,077
Posted by: pachasherilyn on Feb 8, 2010

ATD V-2 Video #6: "How Did We Get Here? Worldview and Assumptions"

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