How do you perceive other people? Do you ever look down on them? Do you ever look down on people with a different cultural background or nationality or skin color, or gender than your own? Answer these questions honestly.
Looking down on other people means also not believing what they say, not taking them seriously or thinking they are lazy, aggressive or stupid, because they are black, Latino, female etc.
If you really want to change our relationship with nature, we need to change in how we relate to each other. There are people in a vulnerable positions, and nature and animals are in a vulnerable position. If we can’t take care of people, we can’t take of nature. Hence, the ecological crisis.
The philosophies Social Ecology and Ecofeminism describe the relationship between the ecological crisis and groups of people being oppressed, respectively non-whites and women. In society there are social structures of wanting to dominate and control others, which makes the dominant group benefit, and the oppressed group suffer. This condescending attitude of wanting to dominate and control is internalized: it encourages seeing an attitude of domination over other forms of life as normal.
Such a condescending attitude also causes the tendency to dominate and control nature. According to Social Ecologists and Ecofeminists people want to control, manipulate and exploit nature for their own needs, which has led to the ecological crisis.
Maybe you think you don’t have such a condescending attitude. You point to the success stories of people who, despite their race or gender are successful, so they are not that suppressed. Or you say to yourself: “I hang out with black people all the time” or “I work with many women a lot” – “so how can I have such a condescending attitude?”
Or you admit that you’re not always tolerant. I sometimes hear the dry reply: “Yes, I know I’m not 100% tolerant, I am also sometimes racist” and they happily go back to their own lives. I think these kinds of answers are a flight of the self-reflection that is needed.
If you really want to contribute to developing a good relationship with nature, then you should also reflect on if you yourself have internalized a condescending attitude towards certain groups of people. Even though you don’t act on it, your energy will have an effect on others; they will pick up on that energy and will act on that energy, disadvantaging other people and nature.
Ask yourself the following reflection questions:
- Who are you hanging out with? Who do you have in your network? Who do you invite for conferences, meetings, etc.?
- Whose statements do you believe? Who do you work with? Who do you trust for your work?
- Why is that? Do you think that’s coincidence? Or is there more to it? How does that feel?
If you answer these questions honestly, you will feel miserable. Because I think everybody has this condescending attitude. It’s not always conscious, but covered by a layer of political correctness. You probably always thought you had integrity, and then you realize you don’t. That’s what will make you feel miserable. I know that from my own felt experience, but I knew I had to look at that dark side of me, because it is the first step to changing our relationship with nature and how we deal with other life forms.
Learn more about your integrity and your self, and how you can deal with other people, in order to create a change. Check out the retreat Sustainability of Self here _______________________________________________________________________________