In the solitude of the forest, I feel at home and with relaxation, my mind continues to search for truth and a deeper understanding of the natural world. My years in the work environment focused on the needs of people and provided little time to observe and understand the relationships life shares with the natural world. I was responsible for leading the management of three and a half million acres of which one and a half million were congressionally designated Wilderness lands. The two million acres of non-wilderness lands were managed for the resources we could take from the forest. Retirement allowed the opportunity to re-consider the 34 years of experiences I had and to reach back to the history of how these forest communities came into existence. I began to understand that modern science had been strongly influenced by ancient religious traditions. It seems the relation between the two still lacks a realistic appreciation and understanding. This may be a special task our modern society is being called to resolve.
Observing many of today’s issues; global warming, climate change, free trade, global economics, has resulted in the suggestion, that we are building a multiform global community where each person and country, finds existence in a comprehensive context. Today, we are observing a re-orientation from the needs of the group to the needs of the individual. This movement is primarily the result of urban expansion and our convergence to an industrialized society. Individualism has impacted societal norms by increasing division among the people, an increased emphasis on greed, alienation from our spiritual traditions and a lost concern for the life sustaining elements provided only by the natural world. We find ourselves in the present world distinguished by its science and technology, rather than its spiritual depth and richness of its human qualities. We now believe our future will be extended by advanced scientific knowledge and new technology, such as artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is the new robotic technology that can think and solve problems and replace humans in many jobs within the work environment. Can you imagine what that will do to the human psyche? It will be an unbelievable technological advancement that will devastate the human species but, think of the monetary savings in production costs. The ability of the human mind is remarkable but, an in-depth review of history clearly demonstrates that technological advancements in the past have improved life styles and accelerated the destruction of the natural world. Thomas Berry states, ”The integrity of the life systems of the planet, diminished with the spread of humans across the planet, must be restored “. He continues, “It takes a universe to bring humans into being, a universe to educate humans, a universe to fulfill the human mode of being. …It takes a solar system and a planet Earth to shape, educate, and fulfill the human. The scientific community has developed this powerful mode of understanding but in many respects has exacerbated the situation.” The problem is that science describes the universe simply as a mechanical process which then justifies the exploitation of Mother Earth by advanced technology and commercial greed. Modern science still insists creation of the universe was by random mechanistic forces.
A careful review of major technological advancements in the United States of American, over the past 100 years, have improved life styles and working condition but, accelerated the destruction of our natural world.
As my mind imagines setting beneath a large oak tree, in the silence of the forest, I drift into the natural surroundings and am exposed to questions I have never thought of before. Things I have experienced, observed, studied and discussed require me to search for understanding and meaning. The specific solutions elude me but, it is clear the challenge is to renew the lands where humans and industry have exhausted the soils, fouled the air, polluted the waters and ruined the forests. Human-Earth relations have not been given the comprehensive consideration needed and resolution will require collaboration between the scientific community and the spiritual community. Alienation must be replaced with in-depth understanding and appreciation! A deep understanding of our natural world will provide far more opportunities than advanced technology can ever hope to provide!