Bringing the Psychological Dimension Into the Discussion
Speech delivered at Voices for Change, organized by students at Sonoma State University, November 2007,
As we gather here, the United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland have decided to act quickly to meet the challenge of global warming by staking out territorial claims to newly exposed resources at the melting North Pole. So extreme is the moral and mental poverty of this predictable, shortsighted, age-of-empire reaction that it brings to mind a George Carlin newscast:
Today a man shot six people on the crosstown bus, got a transfer, and shot six people on the downtown bus. In order to prevent this from happening in the future, authorities are discontinuing the transfer system.
Our gathering is taking place because students at Sonoma State recognize an urgent need to revision our responses to the environmental crisis from the ground up. The old thinking that got us all into such ecological trouble will not help us any more than irrigating more crops kept fallen Sumeria afloat or sending more centurions into frontier wars kept the Roman Empire going. The stakes today are far higher, of course, for they involve every species on the face of our world. Obviously if they can’t survive, we won’t either. We tend to forget we are one of them.
The debate about whether we’re in a planet-wide ecological crisis being effectively over, suggested solutions for it continue to proliferate. But for the most part whats proposed is merely technological or otherwise focused on fixes. In family therapy we often see how fixes applied by family members caught within the pathology of the system make the family crisis worse and unbalance it even more. The same applies to civilizations.