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EAP Publication - 14


Stuart B. Hill, Ph.D.
Macdonald College of McGill University
Ste-Anne de Bellevue, QC, Canada H9X 3V9

This paper is intended to make an historic statement. The title refers to the need for visions of possible futures and goals and actions that are consistent with ecological reality and human potential; to the type of values upon which such visions and actions might be based; and to the imperative for humanity to focus on both healing processes and our psychosocial evolution. Although many developments in these areas are currently taking place, most are relatively unsophisticated and many conflicts exist between the different schools of thought [1] (e.g., ecophilosophers, deep ecologists, social ecologists, ecofeminists, ecotheologians, green politicians and technocentrist futurists). Progress is hampered by our still rudimentary understanding of ecological processes, and the fact that much of this understanding is private to a small group of specialists; also by the fact that there is much misinformation and numerous pseudoexperts, amateurs and scientists whose field of vision is too narrow or too short-term that are confusing the picture. And with respect to human potential, despite our apparent technological progress, most of humanity remains psycho-socially primitive as evidenced by the persistence of oppressions, hierarchies, compensatory, addictive and compulsive behaviors, violence, war and the non-peaceful use of power, adherence to institutional structures and rituals that waste resources, disempower and oppress individuals and groups, and the lack of respect for and love of one another and the other organisms with which we share this planet. In particular, the ways in which most children are conceived, carried, born and raised leaves deep psychological scars on them that manifest themselves in the above list of inappropriate behaviors, both as participants and as bystanders who feel powerless to interrupt such behaviors. As a result of this, the planet has also been scarred, and both person and planet are in need of embarking on a path of healing.

This paper is in the form of a draft set of policy guidelines and commentaries, offered as background for the development of an eco-cosmology (Skolimowski, 1988). They are presented for discussing, testing, improving and acting on, both individually and collectively. I present this with some sense of urgency because I believe that any perpetuation of the current state of affairs will not only continue the present oppressions, but will also further reduce the quality of life for all future generations of humans and of most other organisms on the planet, many of which are already threatened with decimation and extinction.

Obvious Indicators of the Gravity of the Present Situation [2]

The following should be viewed as feedback to our present way of doing things, clear indicators that a radical change is called for in our values, visions, goals and actions.

1. Species extinction, conservatively estimated at one per day, is over 400 times the natural rate of loss of species. At this rate we could lose 20% of all species within the next generation and a quarter of all plant families by the end of the next century. Apart from the known and yet-to-be-discovered utilitarian values of the lost and threatened species, there exist both the ethical question of our right to eliminate other species, and the psychological consequences of defending such an attitude (pride in ignorance, professed enjoyment of violent acts, treatment of people who are different from oneself as if they were "less than human," etc). There is also no reason to believe that our own species is less vulnerable to many of the factors that threaten other species. For example, most insecticides have basically the same devastating effect on the nerves of humans as on those of insects.

2. Over a third of the earth's land area is now threatened by desertification with six million hectares being added annually; soil degradation is accelerating through loss of organic matter, compaction, salinization and erosion; and because only 10% of the number of trees felled annually in the tropics are replanted, it has been estimated by projecting this situation into the future that the last tree in the tropics could be cut down within 40 years.

3. The products and by-products of many industries (and the accidents associated with them) and the lifestyles of those who depend on them have made the rain acid, the lakes dead, the ozone layer perforated and, as a consequence, people and animals exposed to cancer-causing amounts of ultraviolet radiation, the climate warmer, coastal cities threatened by predicted flooding resulting from the melting of the ice caps, and food chains and environments contaminated by a vast range of health-threatening novel toxic chemicals.

4. The human population, which was 1.6 billion at the turn of the century, and 5 billion in 1986, is not expected to level off until it reaches 8 to 14 billion some time in the next century, with possibly over 80% living in cities. Even if wars were eliminated and our luxury consumptive habits checked (e.g., the average North American annually uses over 80 times the energy used by the average Ethiopian), it is unlikely that the earth will be able to sustainably support such a population.

5. Hunger or malnutrition, homelessness, war, oppression, illiteracy, exclusion from opportunities for meaningful and justly rewarded work, and/or prejudice remain the daily experience of most people on earth.

In reading such a list we should be aware that we are likely to underestimate its significance because of its "psychological numbing effect," and because of our resistance to changeing our values and actions, even when we are the victims of their negative effects. So often we act as if we believe that we can beat the odds, not get caught, escape judgment. Although it is conceivable that a few individuals might escape some aspects of the above situation, it is certain that their children or their children's children will not be so lucky.

The imperative to change now is further emphasized by the non-linear nature of environmental and social decay. This was illustrated recently along the German Baltic coastline where over 20% of the seal population died from environmentally triggered diseases during a three-month period. Such phenomena emphasize the need to become much more aware of and responsive to early indicators of negative trends.

Less Obvious Indicators of the Gravity of the Present Situation

Most people die having never or only partially glimpsed the potential of what being human has to offer. Just consider the following statement:

"I eat, rest and exercise rationally. The diverse range of work I do is meaningful and fulfilling. I am comfortable working with complexity and long time frames. I never procrastinate. I have no hesitation making a suggestion to an authority figure. I am afraid of nobody and because I can distinguish between the real person and their negative adaptive patterns of behavior, which I am not distracted by, I can respect and love every human. I can, in public, hug or hold hands with anyone, male or female, black or white, dressed or naked, and feel comfortable. I can learn anything that anyone has ever learned and my creative ability is unlimited. I am completely comfortable being alone and working and playing cooperatively with others. When people are with me they feel absolutely safe. I have no hesitation in being a leader, and in taking full responsibility for my actions. I am always completely honest. My actions are spontaneous and my attention fully in the present at all times. I have a zest for living and am recognizable by my cheerful expression and flexible disposition. I can give help without requiring recognition and do not hesitate to ask for help when needed. I am integrated into, in balance with, and responsive to feedback from the environment I live in, and am familiar with the other species with which I share this environment and with the benign ecological processes with which we are jointly involved. I have a deep respect for all of the other organisms with which I share this planet. I see beauty, elegance, and wonder wherever I turn my attention. I am sure that none of my actions will lower the quality of life of the members of any generations yet to be born."

If any of the above statements are not true for you, then ask yourself what happened. What information have you been deprived of, what misinformation have you been given, what stressful experiences have you been exposed to, what hurts have you received, when was your natural recovery process unsupported or interrupted, how have you been oppressed, and how have you been taught to oppress, hurt and be unsupportive and fearful of others?

The reality is that all of us have been deeply hurt. Throughout history societies have been subjected to systematic disempowerment and hurt through various forms of oppression, early on most obviously through slavery, then feudalism, and now through the various societal mechanisms associated with industrial capitalism, communism, military dictatorships and the more subtle multinational "dictatorships." None of our institutions have been untouched by the influences of this history. All embody a mixture of genuine expression of our human potential together with the results of the adaptive responses to that oppression. Present expressions of that adaptation are most evident in our compensatory, consumptive, obsessive-addictive, defensive and competitive behaviors, and in our own oppressive acts (for the oppressed will oppress). As a result, our lives are infused with distraction, discontentment and guilt. We know at some deeper level that much of what we do and what we see going on around us does not make sense, but yet we seem to be chained to repeating senseless acts and feel powerless to interrupt those committed by others. Part of the reason is that such behavior is culturally reinforced through rewards, punishments, misinformation and continued disempowerment and oppression. Most of us have frequently been exposed to various versions of the lesson that "It doesn't pay to criticise or go against the system" (at every level from the family to the state).

What I am implying is not that people are evil and have to be straightened out, or even saved, but rather that they are deeply hurt, as they have been for generations, and need to be supported in the process of healing and, more important, that this healing must take place before bringing forth another generation if that generation is to avoid being exposed to the same experience of disempowerment, oppression and hurt. By taking such action we will be facilitating our own psychosocial evolution. Such an approach is seen as complementary and not alternative to conventional political responses. For without such psychosocial supports, all efforts to implement rational change will be forced to struggle against the subconscious drive to deny reality and remain preoccupied with symbolic compensatory distractions (possessions and control vs real power, recognition and appreciation vs unconditional love, etc.).

There are also less obvious indicators that things are not well within the environment. Some farmers are finding soils less and less responsive to fertilizers, more disease problems in their animals, well water that doesn't taste as good as it used to, and more pests on their crops. Many fishermen have noticed a decline in their catch and a change in the balance of species that are caught, some of which may be diseased or have toxic levels of poisons in their flesh. Some wildlife biologists have noticed changes in the abundance, distribution and behavior of some of the animals they study. Each of us has probably noticed certain changes in the world around us, within our communities and within our own bodies, and wondered about their significance. The dominant tendency is to assume that such changes are not important or if they are, then someone more qualified than oneself will take care of them. The next time that you observe something that disturbs you, try following it through, find out what the causes are, if others have noticed the same phenomenon, who if anyone is doing anything about it, project into the future what the outcomes might be if nothing is done about it, and get together with others to take some responsible action. You may be surprised to find that others have had the same concerns, little is being done, the outcomes may be quite serious, something can be done, others are willing to follow your lead and, equally important, that by taking such action you empower yourself to experience a relationship with the earth, other organisms and other humans that is both intimate and evolving.

Ecological Realities, Problems and Imperatives [3]

As life on earth evolved, life-maintaining processes became more and more complex and integrated. This can be observed today in such phenomena as nutrient cycles, succession, population regulation and equilibrium phenomena. Humans probably evolved over one million years ago. Since then we have gradually become the dominant species on the earth and, because of our exponential population growth, increasingly aggregated distribution, and highly consumptive and impacting activities, we have become a threat to the integrity of those life-supporting phenomena. To ensure the survival of our species over the long term, it is necessary that we now start to play a much more active role in encouraging life-supporting activities and limiting those that are life-threatening, and in accepting responsibility for our own psychosocial evolution.

In particular, we should consider the following ecological "laws" and imperatives.

1. The long-term survival of a species is determined first by its needs and the ability of the environment to sustainably satisfy those needs, and second by the potential mortality factors and the organism's ability to avoid them. Humans are no exception to this situation.

Problems arise for humans when we confuse compensatory wants, which can never be satisfied, with real needs; when our lifestyles become dependent on finite resources; when renewable resources are made non-renewable by neglecting to facilitate their replacement and maintenance or by subjecting them to stresses above a level from which they can recover, e.g., through pollution; when population density exceeds the carrying capacity of the environment; and when we behave unintelligently and so increase our chances of being affected by mortality factors.

It is important therefore to place a priority on meeting needs vs wants; rely primarily on solar and renewable resources and interact with the latter in such ways that they remain renewable; recycle non-renewable resources and establish priorities for those that are not recyclable, such as fossil fuels; keep population density below the carrying capacity and adjust our distribution to avoid stressing the support environment; and avoid mortality factors by intelligent behavior, the result of enlightened approaches to child rearing and human development.

2. Water and nutrients follow cyclical pathways within the environment.

When cyclical processes are obstructed or not supported, renewable resources are made non-renewable. For example, when the soil is kept bare preventing evapotranspiration and water retention the result is run-off, erosion, flooding and reduced rainfall; and when organic residues and wastes are not returned to the soil the fertility and productivity of that soil gradually declines and it becomes increasingly susceptible to erosion.

Imperatives include keeping as much of the land as possible covered with growing plants, and that which is not, covered with dead organic matter to protect it from erosion, and provide the raw materials for the maintenance of the soil; to return decomposable organic wastes to the soil (vs incinerating them, dumping them in bodies of water or in landfill sites) - this implies that such wastes not be mixed with toxic or non-decomposable materials such as heavy metals and plastics; and decomposer systems that maintain the fertility of ecosystems should be protected and supported.

3. Limits exist within the environment that if not respected result in the degradation of the environment.

The release of novel synthetic chemicals into ecosystems poses problems because of their tendency to not decompose completely, hence they accumulate and eventually poison or otherwise interfere with the natural functioning of the environment. Harvesting a renewable resource beyond the recovery and replacement level of its population results in its decline.

Imperatives include regarding synthetic chemicals as "guilty," and to ban them unless it can be proven that 100% of them can be artificially or naturally recycled without interfering with benign ecological processes. Harvesting must not exceed the replacement limit.

4. Over a period of time, ecosystems tend to increase in complexity, in the functional diversity of their species, and in their resilience; and the maintenance of their productivity is dependent on this diversity.

Ecosystems that have been artificially simplified, such as agricultural monocultures, support fewer and fewer associated organisms until they are no longer able to carry out their maintenance functions such that pest outbreaks become the norm and soil fertility declines.

It is becoming clear, especially to many agroecologists, that our species must learn to integrate itself into self-maintaining complex ecosystems, and to design managed ecosystems that avoid crossing the various self-maintenance thresholds. Steps towards this in agriculture include the use of more complex crop rotations, intercropping, companion plants, multiple species systems and multistory polyculture food systems.

5. Most processes in the environment follow non-linear relationships and exhibit threshold responses.

This means that if we increase our impact on the environment, the effects may at first appear to hardly increase until certain thresholds are reached, at which time the effects may be many times that which might be expected. This can even result in effects that are irreversible, such as the extinction of a species, or that are practically irreversible, such as the "death" of a large lake as a result of acid rain or other forms of pollution.

Here we need to achieve a much better understanding of ecological processes, of early warning signs of degradation, and of the shape of the various response curves. We also need to become much more competent in ways to facilitate ecosystem recovery and regeneration.

6. Under natural conditions ecosystems exhibit numerous benign self-maintaining and self-regulating processes that if interfered with result in degeneration and population explosions.

For example, the application of highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers to the soil inhibits free living and symbiotic nitrogen-fixing organisms such that the vegetation becomes dependent on such inputs. Similarly, the application of pesticides to control pests kills the natural control organisms, and can result in the development of secondary pests as well as making the system dependent on repeated pesticide applications.

More sophisticated approaches involve the design and management of production systems in ways that support the natural processes of self-maintenance and self-regulation, including soil maintenance and pest regulation.

7. The earth is where our species evolved, it is our home, and we already have the potential to relate to the earth and other organisms in mutually supportive and benign ways.

The history of our species is one of alienation from the earth, both in terms of our awareness of its processes and with respect to our implied responsibilities. Most people in industrialized societies behave as if they came from another planet, and are just on the earth to lay claim to and mine its resources. Consequently, so much that we come in contact with is regarded as enemy, potential enemy or, at least, an entity to be feared, controlled or ignored.

Try to remember the most safe and cosy environment that you have ever experienced. We need to realize that we could have this same relationship with the earth, and that experiencing this is only limited by our perceptions and the degree to which the development of our "earth skills" has been facilitated and not obstructed.

These observations, although incomplete, provide sufficient background for the development of a rational approach towards formulating ecologically sound visions and actions for our species. However, these also need to be built on a foundation of a similar understanding of "human realities."

Human Potential Realities, Problems and Imperatives [4]

1. Optimally functioning humans are benign, evolving, spontaneous and fully alive in the present. They construct new, unique, accurate responses to each new, unique situation. It is useful to consider this ability as the real measure of one's intelligence (vs the less fundamental measures that are so often used). In this state, humans have a vast, flexible intelligence and a zest for living, loving, learning, creating, communicating and cooperating. Humans remain in this state if their exposure to stress (physical and emotional hurts and oppressions) does not pass a certain threshold, and if when they are stressed they are supported in the process of fully recovering by discharging their feelings (see No. 4 below), thereby enabling them to think clearly about what happened without being distracted by residual feelings of fear, anger, numbness, etc.

2. Non-spontaneous responses are unfortunately common and are expressed as irrational, patterned (repeated and therefore predictable) thoughts and "unintelligent" behaviors, e.g., oppressions of self and others, compulsive and addictive behaviors, overeating, interrupting others' conversations, regarding oneself as a failure, fears, etc. Individuals may or may not be aware of these.

3. Their cause is to be found in past stresses from which the individual has not fully recovered (internalized hurts and oppressions, unfinished emotional business, and distresses). If the natural recovery process (see No. 4 below) is interrupted, as it invariably is in our society (be quiet, don't cry, etc.), then the individual is left with no choice but to defend him/herself from repeated exposures to similar stresses. The process involved is called adaptation. Advantages of adaptation are that over the short term it enables one to survive physical and emotional insults. Disadvantages of such adaptation include the mis-storing of information received during stressful experiences, poor recall (because the past is often linked with stress and so is blotted out), a distorted view of reality, limited access to one's creativity, power and potential, the establishment of control patterns that lead to isolation and depression and, over the long term, the breakdown of one's immune system and the development of allergies, increased susceptibility to pathogens, and to degenerative diseases [5]. One common behavioral outcome is a tendency to be constantly in a state of defending oneself from, or being always ready to attack, others and the environment, both of which are perceived as being to some extent threatening, inhospitable or unreliable. Such "chronic" behavior patterns operate all the time. "Acting out" (restimulation), another type of irrational behavior, often occurs when we are exposed to a present situation that reminds us (consciously or subconsciously) of past stressful situations from which we have not fully recovered. Such "latent" behavior patterns only appear when restimulated. The most significant adaptations are established during childhood, the pre-natal, birth and early post-birth periods being particularly important. The way in which past experience, the present environment and genetic factors might affect present behaviors is illustrated in Fig. 1. Distress patterns carried by parents (that is, internalized hurts from which they have not fully recovered) are automatically passed on to their offspring. Within our societies, many patterns are systematically kept in place by institutional structures and processes involving rewards, punishments, controlled access to information, etc.

4. Every one of us has the capacity to fully recover from our distresses. Recovery may occur immediately after the hurt or at a later date in the presence of the aware loving attention of another human. In both cases the healing process involves "discharge" (letting out one's feelings) in the form of laughing, crying, trembling, shivering, perspiring, raging, animated talking, yawning, sighing, etc. During the discharge process, which may take a considerable amount of time, the information content of the original stressful situation is re-evaluated and correctly stored; memory is regained, reality perceived more clearly, and potential recovered. This is most easily achieved by two (or three) people agreeing to take turns being the client (talking and discharging) and being the counselor (paying loving attention to the client and supporting them in the discharge process by providing contradictions to the patterns that are expressing themselves, by keeping the client's attention off the pattern, for example by validating the client, and by mirroring to the client expressions of their full potential if they were free of the pattern; in all cases the result is healing discharge). At no time does the counselor advise the client how to solve their problems, such insights are freely arrived at by the client. The main barrier to the guaranteed success of this process is our habit, even when in the counselor role, to at some level be trying to secure discharge for ourselves by letting our attention remain on our own distresses and not on ways to contradict those of the client. This can only be prevented within sessions by repeatedly redeciding to pay full attention to the client and, when we are clients, by fearlessly going all the way in discharging the distresses that are distracting us.

The central point that I am making here is that people are innately "good," benign and rational and only develop distressful and irrational behaviors as a result of internalized hurts, and also that all that is labelled "bad" in the world is merely distress patterns expressing themselves. This contrasts with the dominant Christian assumption that people are basically evil and must strive to be good. The former perception may at first examination appear to lead to denial of responsibility, blame and guilt. Upon further consideration, however, it is clear that at every moment every individual is operating in the very best way they can, given the influences of the present environment and of their own previous experience; and that by embarking on a path of recovery, individuals are taking a positive step towards accepting full responsibility for their own actions. Such a perception is supportive of a positive self-image, and it correctly directs our efforts to healing and the prevention of further oppression. It also avoids the hopeless aspect of the "born evil" prognosis.

Examples of ways in which people, particularly younger people, are commonly hurt as a result of the messages they receive, together with some possible resulting feelings and conclusions about themselves and the world, and some possible outcomes, are given in Fig. 2; and some possible relationships between our past experience and our attitudes and values are listed in Fig. 3. These schemes were developed in an effort to better understand and explain both the positive and negative aspects of the present situation.

One of the areas in which the outcome of the above-described situation is most evident is in the dominant approaches taken (for example by scientists and engineers) towards solving problems. Upon discovering a problem we tend to reach for a "magic bullet" solution to make the problem go away. Invariably we are merely treating the symptoms, which usually recur after a period of time. In addition, such solutions often have multiple side-effects, many of which may be negative. If our own problem-solving efforts are not successful, then we commonly call in an expert who may have a more powerful "magical bullet," or who may have a better aim than we do. In both cases the problem can be expected to recur and become less responsive to the magic bullets with repeated use. The use of many drugs and pesticides exemplifies this situation. It is imperative that we ask ourselves to what extent we are following such a pathway because of a largely subconscious attraction to symbolically powerful solutions that in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways compensate for an internal sense of powerlessness (the result of repeated disempowerment, especially during childhood). Contrast this approach with an opposite response that confronts the causes of the problem, uses a multifaceted integrated strategy to solve the problem and prevent its recurrence, and that relies more on knowledge and skills, and local resources, than on imported products and experts. These and other contrasting characteristics of these two very different approaches to problem solving are listed in Fig. 4. To some extent, the difference between these approaches characterizes the paradigm shift that many agree is currently taking place within science.

Symbolic expressions of internalized distresses can be recognized in all institutional structures and processes : in governments, educational institutions, industries, the media, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining, transportation, medicine, the various religions, etc. On becoming aware of the extent to which our cultures and lives are tied up in these symbolic processes one can easily become depressed. On the other hand, it is the same widespread nature of this phenomenon, and the degree to which most of us are so unaware of its existence and therefore have done so little to eliminate it, that gives us reason for hope because, as a consequence, the potential for making real progress by healing our hurts and abandoning such irrational behaviors and replacing them with rational ones is enormous.

Implementation of Sustainable Change

To recap my position : there are many interrelated local and global problems; many have reached crisis levels; they are caused by my species, including me; they can only be solved and prevented by my species, including me; this requires that I change the way I feel, think and act; I can change; this same reasoning applies to other individuals; such personal transformation will lead to sustainable organizational and institutional transformation (ecopolitics, ecoeconomics, ecoeducation, ecojustice, etc.), and that together these will all lead to sustainable global transformation. This approach to social transformation contrasts with many others that focus either exclusively or predominantly on direct ways to bring about institutional and, particularly, political change. The main problem with this latter approach is that unless the individuals proposing such changes have freed themselves from their distress patterns, they will be likely to unknowingly contaminate their proposed structures and processes with these same patterns, thereby perpetuating the very types of problems that they are striving to solve. I believe that only by taking the radical step of working on all three levels of transformation (personal, organizational and global), will we be able to bring about sustainable positive change.

One of the most useful visual models for analyzing the limiting factors for change and ways to overcome them is Lewin's (1947) force field analysis. His first step is to identify both the barriers or restraining forces and the stimulants or driving forces for change. Then, by finding ways to weaken or remove the former and strengthen or add to the latter, change can be facilitated.

Major barriers to change in the present context are lack of correct information, the presence of misinformation, the need for the development of sustainable visions, lack of awareness of ecological and human realities, lack of access to needed resources and institutional supports, for the establishment of rational alternatives, and the widespread occurrence of feelings of isolation, powerlessness, hopelessness and helplessness, and of the numerous associated compensatory behaviors among the population.

Driving forces include our technological level of sophistication, the power of the media to inform, the enormous amount of information already accumulated that accurately describes the present situation and that can be used to solve and prevent problems, the growing concern among the population with the present situation, the existence of proven methods for people to recover from their internalized distresses, the benign nature of humans and their deep-down awareness that things can be changed for the better, and the proliferation of groups and networks dedicated to correcting different aspects of our problems.

Ways to weaken the restraining forces and strengthen the driving forces include the provision of more supports for rational change in the form of appropriate education, extension, demonstrations, research, improved access to benign products and services, effective use of the media, establishment and implementation of suitable regulations, codes and legislation, the provision of rewards and incentives for change, and change promoting consequences for persistent and significant irresponsible behavior.

Specific strategies within society might include the revision of curricula at all levels within educational institutions; universal access to supports for the recovery from internalized distresses, and for appropriate methods of birthing and child rearing; the provision of community centres along the lines of the very successful "Peckham Experiment," which provided a supportive sanctuary for the spontaneous expression of rational behavior in a family and community context [6]; decentralization of political power to permit optimal levels of participation in the decision-making process; the establishment of priorities for the use of human and material resources; the preparation of draft codes of ethics for different areas of human endeavour; disarmament, etc. A useful summary of questions that need to be confronted, from a "green" perspective, has been provided by Spretnak (1986).

On a personal level, the following describes in general terms what I endeavour to do as part of my ecotransformational program.

* Obtain correct information; ask, listen, look, read, become informed (I settle for nothing less than absolutely everything); with respect to nature, this involves spending time within the natural environment getting to know and respect its many inhabitants and processes;

* Interrupt and correct misinformation; investigate, speak up, write, phone, demonstrate;

* Give up and interrupt oppression of self, others and the environment; support, respect, behave equitably;

* Set rational and consistent goals with deadlines (short-, mid- and long-term); my goals are individual, organizational and global;

* Make relevant commitments, publicize them, carry them around and frequently refer to them (e.g., from this moment on I will abandon my fear of death - and then I add "and this means..." and I pay attention to my first thoughts which invariably are contradictions to the patterns that are getting in the way of my behaving rationally in the present [7]);

* Seek allies within my immediate environment and outside, and be an ally to others, particularly to members of oppressed groups; here I focus on communicating only with persons and not their patterns; by doing this the patterns are starved and contradicted, and it remains clear that there are no enemies, only indicators of distress; I also regard other organisms as my allies and I work to protect and restore their habitats;

* Cooperate, collaborate and participate in alliances, networks and support groups to achieve shared goals (I look for commonality, e.g., between ecofeminists, deep ecologists, social ecologists, etc.);

* Recognize the difference between acting on rational thinking and gut feelings vs superficial feelings (which originate from distresses and and internalized oppressions);

* Take clear, fully human, powerful actions based on my goals (I tend to emphasize indirect, multifaceted, low resource dependent, preventative, local knowledge and skill-intensive, bio-ecological and anonymous approaches - the anonymous aspect is a check to be sure that I am not doing what I am doing to try to get the attention that I was deprived of as a child, and am still subconsciously seeking);

* Peer counsel for support, recovery from hurts, and elimination of distresses (to help me to continue in the face of hopelessness and of resistance, mine and others', and to regain my full intelligence). I find it necessary to repeatedly remind myself that I'm worth it.

As a result of pursuing such a program of action I have become confident that the transformation we all know (at least deep down) is possible and desirable, is also achievable [8].

References Cited

Lewin, K., 1947. Force Field Analysis, Pp 115-117 in P. Hersey and K. Blanchard (1982) Management of Organizational Behaviour. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Skolimowski, H., 1988. Eco-cosmology and Its Consequences. Draft paper for the 17th International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences.

Spretnak, C. 1986. The Spiritual Dimension of Green Politics. Bear and Co., Santa Fe, NM. (see pp. 77-82).


1. Patsy Hallen (School of Social Inquiry, Murdoch University, Western Australia 6150) is preparing a guide to the key literature in this area.

2. Lester R. Brown and colleagues at the World Watch Institute (1776 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington DC, 20036) are a key source for further documentation on this section.

3. These ecological "laws" grew out of an initial list prepared by Barry Commoner (1970): The ecological facts of life, pp 18-35 in H.D. Johnson, ed., No Deposit - No Return : Man and His Environment : A View Toward Survival. Addison-Wesley, Don Mills, ON.

4. Much of the material in this section and the earlier "Less Obvious Indicators..." section is based on the work of Harvey Jackins, the originator of Re-evaluation Counseling, a grassroots group with a theory and practice consistent with the ideas being presented here. A list of his publications and those of his colleagues may be obtained by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Rational Island Publishers, P.O. Box 2081, Main Office Station, Seattle, WA 98111.

5. A group of medical doctors, concerned particularly with environmental medicine, have developed a theory of disease that in many ways parallels the psychological model presented here. Many are members of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (Judy Howard, Admin. Asst., P.O. Box 16106, Denver, CO 80206, U.S.A.) or the Canadian Society for Clinical Ecology and Environmental Medicine (Lynn Marshall, M.D., Exec. Sec., 346 John Street N., Arnprior, ON, Canada K7S 1V6).

6. Information on the "Peckham Experiment" may be obtained by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Mrs. Pam Elven, Hon. Sec., Pioneer Health Centre Ltd., Camolin, Birtley Rise, Bramley, Guilford, Surrey, England GU5 0H2.

7. I believe that fear of death, in its various forms, is one of the main adaptations (patterns) that is at the root of so many powerless, irrational and reactionary behaviors. A useful contradiction is to proclaim with unlimited enthusiasm one's right to be alive, and to act on the implications of this.

8. A list of my other writing in this and related areas may be obtained by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Ecological Agriculture Projects, Macdonald College, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, QC, Canada H9X 3V9.

Copyright 1991 Ecological Agriculture Projects

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