Newsletter no. 6
Can Institutions Help Create Ecological Civilization?
August 8, 2022
We are still struggling to find how best to work for cooperation among nations to bring into being an ecological civilization.

The challenge is genuinely overwhelming. As the anticipated heat is being felt far more keenly in many parts of the world, more people are realizing that dealing with global problems like this is more important than jockeying for power and wealth. But competitive habits and even wars are deeply entrenched in our psyches, and our leaders still give them priority over a living Earth. In the midst of a terrible heat wave, the United States prided itself in getting the world’s greatest military power to commit itself to work against China.

It is hard to look to nations for leadership toward peace. The corporations are so committed to increasing profits that by law they are in a poor position to lead toward a sustainable world. The universities are so fragmented into value free academic disciplines that they can hardly deal with the holistic problems the world faces. The media are so tied to governments and corporations that they rarely open the doors that are so tightly closed.

Where can we look? First, we’ll continue to hope for help from governments, corporations, universities, and the media. We’ll rejoice at every breakthrough.
For example, on July 17, the New York Times featured one of our colleagues in the struggle for ecological civilization, Herman Daly (“This Pioneering Economist Says Our Obsession With Growth Must End”). For decades he has been challenging the commitment to growth, when we are already living unsustainably. The New York Times gave him space to explain his argument in a supportive context. This may prove important.

One major sector of society I have not noticed is religion. Can we look with hope to the faith communities? They are so diverse that the answer is that many have bad records and the modern world has not been wrong to teach us to avoid religious dogmas and outdated teaching. But not all records have been bad. Many of us think that the best short statement of what we need is Pope Francis’ 2015 statement, Laudato Si. The complaint is that his church has done so little to implement it.

Indeed, if we compare the teaching coming from the religious communities about the world we need with that from the other sectors of society mentioned above, we may decide that dismissing religious traditions is a mistake. Not only have many religious leaders and institutions made fine statements, but there are hundreds of initiatives and programs expressing religious beliefs about the Earth that can give us hope.

Audrey Kitagawa travels the world, working with organizations and efforts in religious communities (as well as secular ones). I doubt that anyone has a more varied and comprehensive set of contacts and experiences of what is encouraging around the world. We are proud that on Thursday, July 28, she shared her rich knowledge and wisdom on these matters. Sharing the program with her was David Korten, whose understanding of the goal of ecological civilization and ability to judge what is working for that end are unexcelled. You can find a video recording of that gathering on the Living Earth Movement YouTube Channel.

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