Earthrise. Eagle Cap Wilderness . . .
On the road in the American Northwest. [click photo for next . . . ]
ETHICAL IMPERATIVES—a meditation
The first imperative of ethics, it seems to me, is that ethics itself
should not be thought of as belonging primarily to what is now considered
religion, but rather as a primary dimension of all human activity.
‘Primary’ means here that it is the first aspect to be considered in all action
and decision making, and not the last.
All action resonates in space and time. Sometimes only a second or
two, sometimes for centuries; Sometimes only a few centimeters out
from my own body. sometimes perhaps to infinity.
Outwardly, this is ethical consequence; inwardly, it is
The key feature of this complementary inner and outer movement of
consequence and conscience is the breadth of the circle of awareness
and responsibility. The great leap of consciousness brought home in
the historic Apollo 8 Earthrise photograph made by astronaut William
Anders in 1968—perhaps the most important image of our time—is
that it shows to the mind of compassion with granite-like clarity that
the necessary breadth of this circle of awareness and responsibility
begins and ends with the whole of the living Earth, and not with the
largely arbitrary, conflicting fragments we currently call nations states.
Necessity is a thing of great philosophic beauty. This is so because
necessity awakens, and in a most powerful way brings together, the
very best of our intellectual and spiritual energies, both individually
and collectively. Just as the wild proposal of the poet-politician that we
must go to the Moon not because it is easy, but because it is difficult,
crystallized and brought together an entire generation of creativity, we
need now to see that the dual imperatives of the new millennium are
ending waste and war. Waste, because it in one word summarizes where
the conventions of Culture are out of step with the laws of Nature. Eliminate
waste, and you solve the problems of pollution, renewable energy,
corrupt agricultural practices and climate change all at once. And War,
because of its destructive insanity—and it is insanity because the entire
Earth is now at stake—of contemporary weapons technology stands before
us as the central fact of our time:—that it is no longer a question of
violence or non-violence, as Dr. King suggested also about forty years
ago, but rather of non-violence or non-existence. Seen from this larger
perspective, it becomes clear perhaps that War and Waste are essentially
two sides of but one problem.
For who would not say that, from the perspective of the Moon, waste
is indeed humanity’s total war on Nature, and that, war in turn, is
humanity’s total waste of its own spiritual essence and promise?
Camp Lost & Found,
Eagle Cap Wilderness