In Future Sacred, environmental educator, futurist, and writer Julie J. Morley takes down the “survival of the fittest” paradigm to reveal a natural world based on cooperation, symbiosis, and complexity—a self-regulating, self-healing system of which we are all a part, and from which we have much to learn.
Tracing philosophy, history, cultural studies, and science, Morley shows how the panpsychism (the idea that all things, animate and inanimate, possess some degree of consciousness) of early indigenous cultures was replaced with a dualistic, materialistic worldview when the European Enlightenment split mind and matter apart. Since then, the idea that the nonhuman world was made up of “dead matter,” lacking in meaning and purpose aside from its usefulness to humans, has prevailed.
The result has been the “disenchantment” of nature as humanity, a relative newcomer on the planet, placed itself above all else to reign over a world it does not understand, causing wide-scale environmental disruption and devastation. Fortunately, new research is showing us that sentience is ubiquitous in the complex, interconnected, magical web of existence. Morley uses the term “sacred” to honor what is becoming more and more evident: that minds exist throughout nature, and that there is intelligence and sentience at every level if we open our eyes to see it.
In agreement with philosopher Gregory Bateson, who said that “The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think,” Morley gives clear evidence that, if not totally wrong, human understanding of the natural world is at least incomplete. She invites us to look into the eyes of our nonhuman friends to see how much we have in common—because something has to change, and soon, if we are to have a future worth having.
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