We live in a time where there is intense focus and even an obsession when it comes to our environment. In many ways, I believe that this is a good thing. The questions that arise for me are; what causes us to act in ways that are so destructive to the environment? And at the same time, why is it that we only seem to care about our environment, now that it is in such a precarious position. This is a position, which has been described by many, as the point of no return.
Now, I don’t believe that global warming is black and white and that one way or one approach will solve all of the problems. So with my understanding of the psychological and emotional aspects, I will focus on that side of the equation.
My perspective is that through our own avoidance of looking at our own pain and processing that which we find unpleasant and causes us conflict; we have become dissociated from ourselves. By this, I mean we have become numbed to how we truly feel, and as a result of this, we not only treat ourselves badly, it also extends to our own environment.
When we act out of dissociation, one our abilities that makes us human, our ability to empathise is very much out of action. This then leads us to act unconsciously and react to life and in doing so we lose our capacity to act consciously, to question, whether what we are doing is helping our harming ourselves and others.
So when it comes to the question of why do we treat our environment so badly, I would add, do we truly treat ourselves much better? And that is our environment just a mirror of what is going on inside of ourselves? I don’t believe that our own environment can be looked at in isolation, if we want to gain the right perspective and see the full picture. I believe that we have to look at all aspects to gain the right point of view.
This perspective clearly won’t become front page news or a stance that will be favoured by many. I would say this is due to living in a society that is largely identified with the mind and as a result rarely has the ability to observe it. With dissociation being a defence mechanism of the mind, it is a way for the undeveloped ego to escape looking at itself and to avoid responsibility. I would say that the majority of what is supported by the mainstream is that which validates and strengthens the ego mind.
This is why I believe it is important not to get caught up in the media fear frenzy, as although there are clearly problems, as human beings we are also projecting our own meaning onto the world and that meaning is not the world. And as much as we try to understand what is happening through science and research, we can never see the whole picture and know everything. So being in a place of fear and hopelessness as a result of what the media says could be complete waste of our energy, as it could not only be false, but we could be using that energy to make a difference.
If we see the environment as an extension of ourselves and we bring our awareness to that point, we can begin to ask the question of, what are we holding onto that doesn’t serve us? And as a result of this, is also harming our environment.
If we take the perspective that our environment is a living organism, that has feelings and needs just like ourselves and is not an inanimate object, would we start to treat it differently? As we start to love and appreciate ourselves more, will we also treat our environment in the same way? And if we see ourselves as separate from our environment, does his also make it easier for us to harm it?
The film Avatar by James Cameron, posed plenty of questions when it comes to our environment. While there has been numerous interpretations of what the film was about, Cameron himself has said his meaning was about mans sense of entitlement when it comes to the environment. How we believe that we are above and have complete control over our environment. Seeing our environment as sacred and something we can work with and not against, is overlooked and usually dismissed. Perhaps this way of looking at nature seems a bit bizarre to many people and might even draw comparisons to pantheism.
There is also the view point that nature reacts to how we feel and absorbs our emotions. This sounds normal to me; however I have no empirical experience to know it at a deeper level. If indeed this is so, would it explain a lot of what’s going on, with the amount of negativity it would have to process from us all?
The outlook I have, is through our disassociation from ourselves, we start to become dissociated from our environment, as this happens we begin to project separation onto life. As this is all occurring we try to control and dominate our environment, as a way to compensate for our perceived loss of power. One of the consequences of this is we destroy the very thing that supports and nourishes us. Although our ego is there to give us our sense of individuality, when we have forgotten that we are also connected at the same time, it can naturally lead one to feel powerless.
The second question I posed was why does there only seem to be widespread concern for our environment now that it is in dire straits. As I look at this occurrence, I can see that there are many examples in life where this happens. Whether it relates to our health, our diet or how physically fit we are, very often we are only motivated to do something about these areas when they are really bad and rarely in the early stages of when the signs first start to appear.
I currently believe there are two reasons for this. The first is that one of the ways the mind operates is through pleasure and pain. The other reason is gained, by looking at how defence mechanism’s work.
I would say that these two aspects work together to motivate what we do and don’t do. However when we are the observers of our mind, we can become conscious of them and decide whether we want to live that way or change how we are. This is something that is not possible if we remain unaware of their influence over us.
So there could be a degree of pain in our life and yet very often it is not enough to motivate us to change. However the more we avoid the pain, the stronger it gets. As it accumulates we will continue to receive warning signs and the consequences will continue to compound. With the egos need to feel safe, being the very thing that often leads to our own downfall. It has just occurred to me that defence mechanisms are the application of pleasure and pain, as they allow us to avoid pain momentarily or that’s what their intention is. This is done by using any of the defence mechanism that will allow for the instant release and escape of that pain. Although there are many different ones, they all serve the same purpose.
So I believe, as we continue to appreciate and love ourselves, not only will we as individuals treat our immediate environment better, we will also see a global change as a result. I believe there is always a way, and our own mind wont necessarily be able to comprehend another way. And this is normal, as the only thing the mind knows is the past and a combination of the past, however as we continue to expand what we know and trust in our hearts, the answer’s and solutions will be revealed.
Oliver J R Cooper