peripatetic precipitates: on nature, healing, and homecoming

A column by Craig Chalquist, PhD

We Treat the Earth as We Feel About It

"Drill, Baby, Drill!" -- necrophilic campaign slogan of mad opportunist Sarah Palin
"On Contempt for the World" -- title of a document written by Pope Innocent III, author of the Fourth Crusade

It shouldn't take a trained counselor to know that how we treat something, how we actually act toward it, reflects our underlying feelings about it. Say what we will, our actions say more.

In the therapy groups for court-ordered men I once facilitated, we never took "because I love her" at face value when the violent used it to excuse violence toward their wives and lovers. We could see the hatred at work, just as analyst Alice Miller did in parents who abused their children "for their own good."

The same is true for how we treat our homeworld. To drill, blast, pollute, exploit, pulverize, waste, and ruin the land, the sea, the sky, and our fellow creatures cannot be understood in purely economic terms as though the dollar made us do it. No. These are not acts of necessity, but of hatred: a deep ecocidal hatred we do not discuss in public.

By contrast, it is easy to identify those who love the world. The love gleams in how they appreciate it, how they strive to respect and protect it, the awe they feel for it. People who love the world nurture their relationship with it--because it is a relationship, requiring care and patience and affectionate understanding. They like their animals alive, their trees still standing, their air and water clean, not just to suit human health, but because the Earth is worthy of appreciation and gratitude.

Where does the ecocidal hatred come from? Perhaps from a feeling of resentment and envy that follow inevitably from turning one's back on everything natural, wild, organic, abundant, and free. The educators of ugliness and darkness have told us for centuries that Earth is low and fallen, "soiled" and unimportant, a dead backdrop to human salvation or damnation. Little wonder some feel aborted from the womb of the generous primal mother. (Do those who rail for "life" at all costs secretly feel unborn? Is that why so many seem intensely attracted to death?)

A task for ecotherapy: formulating a diagnostics and therapeutics for ecocidality before its obvious contempt for the world can destroy what's left of it, and ourselves along with it.

In our groups we held our men firmly accountable, not hesitating to jail those who continued to be threatening. There are laws against harming each other, but what laws protect nature against ecocidal violence?



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