Page 13 - The.Ascent.of.Humanity
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words, there is a spiritual dimension to the planetary crisis.

As this planetary crisis invades our individual lives, unavoidably, nei- 

ther the personal nor the collective misconception of who we are will 

remain tenable. Each mirrors the other: in its origin, its consequences, 

and its resolution. That is why this book interweaves the story of hu- 

manity’s separation from nature with the story of our individual alien-

ation from life, nature, spirit, and self.


Despite my faith that life is meant to be more, little voices whisper in 

my ear that I am crazy. Nothing is amiss, they say, this is just the way 

things are. The rising tide of human misery and ecological destruction, as 

old as civilization, is simply the human condition, an inevitable result of 

built-in human flaws like selfishness and laziness. Since you can’t change 

it, be thankful for your good fortune in avoiding it. The misery of much 

of the planet is a warning, say the voices, to protect me and mine, impel- 

ling me to maximize my security.

Besides, it couldn’t be as bad as I think. If all that stuff were true— 

about the ecological destruction, the genocide, the starving children, and 

the whole litany of impending crises—then wouldn’t everyone be in an 

uproar about it? The normalcy of the routines surrounding me here in 

America tells me, “It couldn’t be that bad.” That little voice echoes 

throughout the culture. Every advertising flyer, every celebrity news item, 

every product catalog, every hyped-up sports event, carries the subtext, 

“You can afford to care about this.” A man in a burning house wouldn’t 

care about these things; that our culture does care about them, almost 

exclusively, implies that our house is not burning down. The forests are 

not dying. The deserts are not spreading. The atmosphere is not heating. 

Children are not starving. Torturers are not going free. Whole ethnicities 

are not being exterminated. These crimes against humanity and crimes 

against nature couldn’t really be happening. Probably they have been ex- 

aggerated; in any event, they are happening somewhere else. Our society 

will figure out solutions before the calamities of the Third World affect 

me. See, no one else is worried, are they? Life hums on as usual.

As for my intuition of magnificent possibilities for my own life, well, 

my expectations are too high. Grow up, the voices say, life is just like 

this. What right have I to expect the unreasonable magnificence whose 

possibility certain moments have shown me? No, it is my intuitions that

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