Rasalila Humphrey recently asked me about how we should view and deal with environmental and ecological destruction from a spiritual perspective.

Unfortunately, there is a great tendency to deal with issues like carbon emissions etc. as being the problems that need addressing. But from a spiritual perspective these are actually symptoms of a deeper problem. Unless we address the deeper and underlying problem, then any solution or attempts at a solution will fall short and potentially just give rise to ‘alternative’ ways to destroy the environment.

Demonstrations and protests are great ways of raising awareness of the dangers we face but they should not become a ‘revolution’ where force and intimidation become the instruments to curb carbon emissions. There is a grave danger that if we turn to the use of force to temper behavior and consumption, this can lead to authoritarianism which is incredibly dangerous. Any form of totalitarianism, as demonstrated by fascist and communist regimes of the past, are socially destructive and contain within themselves the seeds for counter-revolution and a complete overthrowing of such authoritarianism and the abandonment of the change they sought. The same will also happen if environmental authoritarianism is adopted.

There is a need to re-evaluate what it is that is driving our consumption madness, how we got to this place, and consider what we need to do to bring about meaningful and voluntary changes in patterns of consumption.

Of course this will necessarily entail some form of spiritual awakening, in order to develop more meaningful life goals.
“The modern economy is propelled by a frenzy of greed and indulges in an orgy of envy, and these are not accidental features but the very causes of its expansionist success. The question is whether such causes can be effective for long or whether they carry within themselves the seeds of destruction. ” – E.F. Schumacher – British Economist