Whether you’re reading the sagacious words of Wendell Berry, or the biting commentary of Vandana Shiva, their conclusions are the same: The skills, aptitudes and attitudes that were necessary to industrialize the Earth are not the same as those that are needed now to heal the Earth, or to build durable economies and good communities. We agree wholeheartedly, but our analysis goes one layer deeper to include the spiritual dimension.
Without recognizing the role spirituality has traditionally played in preserving our planet’s delicate web of life, we’re easily tricked into believing that secular science will come up with a green techno-fix to save the day. It’s those brainy scientist types, not the sages of yore, who deserve our veneration, so goes conventional thought.
But wait! The current environmental predicament is not the work of renunciates muttering mantras and begging for alms. It is largely the work of people widely believed to be the best educated people on earth, people with BA’s, BScs, MBA’s and PhD’s. If Western education has driven the planet to a point of crises, what is wrong with that education?
And secondly, can any current Western educational institution — whether it’s orientation is secular or Judeo-Christian — identify what’s gone wrong and offer courageous or inspired leadership? What’s needed is not more education, but education tempered with wisdom — education that teaches the value of local, the interconnectedness of everything, cooperation over competition, and conscience over efficiency.
Let’s do an about-face. Is there a model that can dismantle the scaffolding of ideas, philosophies, and ideologies that constitutes the modern worldview? Let’s look to the East.