Getting Back on Track to Being Human
Cooperation and compassion are forms of intelligence. Their lack is an indication of ongoing stress or toxic stress during development that undermined the usual growth of compassion capacities. Though it is hard to face at first awareness, humans in the dominant culture tend to be pretty unintelligent compared to those from societies that existed sustainably for thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of years. Whereas in sustainable societies everyone must learn to cooperate with earth’s systems to survive and thrive, in the dominant culture this is no longer the case. Now due to technological advances that do not take into account the long-term welfare of earth systems, humans have become “free riders” until these systems collapse from abuse or misuse. The dominant human culture, a “weed species,” has come to devastate planetary ecosystems in a matter of centuries. What do we do to return ourselves to living as earth creatures, as one species among many in community? Humanity needs to restore lost capacities—relational attunement and communal imagination—whose loss occurs primarily in cultures dominated by child-raising practices and ways of thinking that undermine cooperative companionship and a sense of partnership that otherwise develops from the beginning of life. To plant the seeds of cooperation, democracy, and partnership, we need to provide the evolved nest to children, and facilitate the development of ecological attachment to their landscape. This will take efforts at the individual, policy, and institutional levels.
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