Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shared Passion

I believe that one of the greatest joys in life is discovering others who share the same passion and vision that we do. These discoveries often occur when we least expect it; the serendipity of life's journey never ceases to amaze.

Yesterday, I discovered that Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies held an invitation-only conference in October, 2007 to address questions around the issue of environmental sustainability and humanity's moral and cultural disconnect with the health of the living system on which we are all dependent. Fifty-seven leading thinkers from diverse fields participated in the conference. Among them, were Paul Hawken, Theodore Roosevelt IV, Juliet Schor, Tim Kasser, James Gustave Speth, Stephen Kellert, and Duane Elgin. It is my opinion that the issues and questions explored by the participants may be the most important ever addressed by the human race.

The outcome of the three-day conference, held in Aspen, Colorado, was a publication (available at entitled Toward a New Consciousness: Values to Sustain Human and Natural Communities. I have not yet read the full report. Even so, I am so inspired by what I have discovered so far that I could not wait to share it. I think Stephen Kellert brilliantly describes the scope of the conference in the Afterword. He writes:

"We need to address the roots of our predicament – an adversarial relation to the natural world – and find a way to shift our core values and worldviews not just toward the task of sustainability, but toward a society with a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with the creation. In striving for harmony with nature, we need to seek not just a more physically secure and prosperous society, but one marked
as well by moral and spiritual wellbeing.

Despite the dominance until now of a value system that has encouraged environmental degradation and alienation from nature, we are now coming to appreciate that an impoverished biotic system is not only a threat to our physical security, but also to our fullest potential for fulfillment and happiness.

We may be at a proverbial tipping point where modern society aspires not just for economic sustainability, but for harmony and grace that can only be engendered by a richer and more celebratory relation to creation. The moment is at hand for us to serve as an instrument for noteworthy and enduring change".

Now that is beautiful music to my most passionate ears!

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