Thursday, February 6, 2020

Climate justice - Will we take responsibility?

Will we take responsibility for human impact on ecological systems or continue with our human exemptionalistic thinking?

“Writing in the late 1970s, William Catton and Riley Dunlap, early environmental sociologists, wrote an oft-cited paper that argued that virtually all sociological theories were anthropocentric; that is, they view society as the center of the natural world, with humans controlling and using the environment without regard for the human resource-based limits to social growth. They termed this sociological worldview the “human exemptionalism paradigm” (HEP).” P.6, Gould, Kenneth A, Lewis, Tammy L,. “An Introduction to Environmental Sociology” in Twenty Lessons In Environmental Sociology, 2015, New York, NY, Oxford University Press.

While the sociologists note what they call the “human exemptionalism paradigm,” the theologians noted the “human domination paradigm” with oft quoted verses from Genesis in the Old Testament where God tells Adam and Eve to go an multiply and dominate the earth.

These narratives from sociology and theology are both at odds with the spiritual teachings of the Earth Centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature which is considered one of the six sources of the Unitarian Univeralist Living Tradition.

While UUs pay lip service to this Earth Centered tradition, their daily lives rarely exemplify the teachings of this source, but rather exemplify the teachings of a capitalistic consumer based society..

Human beings in the United States have seen themselves as the conquerors of nature and have lived their lives based on a nationalistic ethic of manifest destiny by taming the wilderness, domesticating the indigenous savages to comply with the norms of western, white civilizaiton, extracating the earth’s resources for personal and capitalistic enrichment without considering the ramifications for the interdependent web of which they are a part.

Americans consume and then “throw away” naively ignoring the understanding that there is, ultimately, no “away.” We are only beginning to understand that our exploitation, taking for granted, and ignoring consequences of our behavior on the ecosystem which we inhabit may have dire consequences for our survival as individuals and as a species.

With this dawning awareness will we work together to rectify our relationships with one another and nature or will we continue our irresponsible ways, and turn on each other where it will be a matter of the survival of the fittest and richest?

Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote the respect for the interdependent web of which we are a part. How are we as a denomination of religious people impacting the systems that promote improved balance between our social systems and the ecological systems of life?

To be continued

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