From my unassuming position on the sunny side of the couch, surrounded by a view of rooftops, “Thinking like a Mountain, towards a Council of All Beings”, brought upon that overwhelming feeling of smallness I get when I’m surrounded by pure and wild nature.
Published in 1988, having taken inspiration from the earlier 1949 book “Sand County Almanac”, by Aldo Leopold, this series of essays, meditations and poems is still very much relevant to our current global situation. It was compiled by John Seed, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming, and Arne Naess amongst others, attempting to recall our forgotten rituals in nature.
The book’s overarching theme of deep ecology explains the ways in which humans have (somewhat unconsciously) over time lost our empathy towards other beings. They quote Dr. Mustafa Tolba, director-general of the United Nations Environment Program, saying that the destruction of genetic material and environments has reached a pitch that “we face, by the turn of the century, an environmental catastrophe as complete, as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust.” Realisation of the destruction we have already caused to the earth, they say is one of our greatest fears and a reason we daily avoid thinking about it. However they argue that taking the time to talk or think through the despair and relate to our surroundings provides us with a position to move on from and better ourselves. “Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks?”, they reminds us.
Do we have time to be conscious of other beings in society today? Faced by a threat of extinction, are our behaviours able to evolve?