When I think of any group of people who "had it right", I think of the American natives who recognized that the land was their provider and that it must cared for and respected. They didn't see themselves as being above the animal kingdom, but a part of it. They respected all living things and would waste nothing of an animal they killed.
Compare and contrast to the mindset we have established today and I feel it's a crying shame. "This Earth is temporary and things like pollution, global warming, etc. don't matter because we'll all be leaving soon anyway!" seems to be the mindset of most Christians I know in the Southern United States. Every time I see someone in a Jesus-fish ornamented Hummer throwing litter out the window, I weep just a little for my ancestors' lost way of life. Found on
Well, it's definitely not just a perception problem: you're right, that is the exact attitude most Christians have regarding earth. It's really maddening. My mom keeps saying Global Warming is a lie concocted in order to siphon money from gullible tree-huggers. She says it's "arrogant" to think us tiny little humans could have an impact on the planet. Really, I just think she, and others, think it's arrogant to THINK at all... how dare I question, with my little mortal mind, the words scribbled on parchment over 2,000 years ago. But I digress... Christians think the reason for the influx of natural disasters can ONLY be attributed to God's wrath, and cannot at all be blamed on the (sinfully destructive?) actions of humans.
A friend of mine claims that climate change has to be false, as it is a) arrogant to assume that humans could have any lasting effect on the world's climate and b) the world's climate is self-correcting, and anything we do that might imbalance it would be adjusted for and repaired.
I tried pointing out that we both have evidence that human activity can seriously affect the global climate (chlorofluorocarbons and the ozone layer, anyone?), and that we have evidence that the world's climate has been significantly different in the past (both colder, during ice ages, and hotter, not to mention with a reducing atmosphere), so it is hardly auto-correcting to an 'ideal' climate. But since his denial of climate change, like his rejection of evolution, comes from his religious convictions and his antipathy towards scientists (who are all selfish, arrogant, ivory-tower types who care more about their own prestige and pushing their pet theories than doing 'real' science according to him), it had no impact on his opinions.
This is a frustration of mine as well. There was a small push by a couple religious leaders to start preaching that humans should take care of god's creation, but I don't think it got much traction.
In the end, I think this is just another case of religious people believing / interpreting things the way they want for their own selfish, personal comfort. It's easier to use plastic forks, cups, and paper plates than spending 2 minutes washing regular dishes. It's easier and makes me feel important to have a truck with a hemi so I can haul stuff 3 times a year instead of hitching up a trailer to my Prius. It's easier to make fun of people who care about what we're leaving for our future generations than to put themselves on the line and change habits. It's easier to have faith that god has created a magical and perfect planet for us that wipes any responsibility from our plates. They don't want to realize that while nature is pretty damned amazing, humans as a whole can have a dramatic and catastrophic effect on the planet.
Whenever I hear religious folk preach about how humans don't have the power to destroy the earth I think back to George Carlin's (AKA Yoda) rant on the subject. Of course his views have been twisted by a great many people on both sides of the argument as "proof" that Carlin was a Global Warming denier, of course all it proves is that those folks missed the point entirely.
You could probably find the rant online on YouTube or something similar but the gist of it is that it is phenomenally arrogant of the human race to think *WE* have the power to destroy the planet. It was here LONG before we got here and it will be here LONG after we're gone - it's been through more chaos and destruction than we could ever even HOPE to duplicate. The Earth isn't going anywhere. WE are the ones going away. We certainly can't destroy the planet but we do have enough power to make it completely inhospitable to human life and, in effect, be the cause of our own extinction.
Sorry, that was slightly off the topic of the discussion but reading this made my 3rd favorite Carlin rant (behind his rant on religion and of course the infamous 7 words you can't say rant) pop into mind and I had to bring it up. :)
I think this is a great point. I also think this is the better way to frame the argument. Hurting the planet is too hard for people to wrap their heads around. Hurting ourselves and those you love (children, grandchildren, etc.) is something people are much more likely to care about. When my niece was born, my Republican dad suddenly started paying attention to environmental issues just as much as tax issues. He's no environmentalist, but he's way better then he had been.
Many Indigenous Americans actually shaped the environment and wildlife around them and their lifestyles. Down in the Amazon River Basin, people enriched the soil (which is usually very poor) with biochar, a natural carbon sink and powerful natural fertilizer, allowing them to support large civilizations where there shouldn't have been any. Here in North America, many tribes of the Midwest shaped the ecosystems around them so well, that when the Indians died out from foreign disease (without ever meeting any Europeans, just from the natural spread of these sicknesses) the entire ecosystem flew out of whack, allowing for those MASSIVE populations of passenger pigeons and American Bison recorded by westward-expanding European-Americans. I highly recommend reading 1491 by Charles C. Mann for more on this topic
Basically, what I'm saying is that these people did not live 'in tune' with nature as it was, they made nature in tune with them, rather expertly in many cases, not so expertly in some. In essence, I agree with you that it is disheartening and even sickening when such destruction happens, but I think it is erroneous that we cannot/should not change the Earth around us. Doing so as we do now is despicable, but responsibly, with the tremendous respect and forethought demonstrated by your ancestors, should be our goal.