At this time on earth, we seem to be rushing mindlessly into the abyss. We are now experiencing (or, through denial, failing to experience) symptoms of our discordant and indulgent lifestyles (symptoms such as global warming, species extinctions, extreme poverty, war, terror, mass starvation – should I go on?).

While many may view these symptoms as problems to be solved, there is an alternative view of of symptoms as indicating something to be experienced and felt on a much deeper level. I would like to expound an alternative idea of these symptoms, influenced by the thinking of Robert Romanyshyn.

Rather than our typically modern approach of wanting to evaluate and diagnose the symptoms in order to “cure” them (and cure them quickly), our task, I believe, is to treat the symptoms as a call to listen and give voice to what would otherwise remain silenced, to challenge us in remembering what we have forgotten.

Perhaps the symptoms are revealing that our societies need to listen deeply to what is, at core, an ethical and moral problem (dare I say “spiritual”?), and not a technical problem. That is, it is the way we live on, and our attitudes to, this earth, (our one and only home) and our failure to imagine an alternative to mass industrial society and consumer culture that is the root cause of the symptoms.

While there is much talk of sustainabilty these days, there is little talk of what it means to be human, in an authentic way, in these perilous times. While the end of the world may indeed be nigh, that does not mean we can escape the injunction to live an authentic life, even up to the end. And remember, the end is also a new beginning. So, in a sense, the world does not come to an end.

We need to make visible the pathology of the current age by challenging current dominant values, such as: rationalism; disembodiement; privileging of certain ways of knowing;domination of women, nature and other animals; belief in infinite progress; industrialism; individual privacy; hyper-seperation from the earth; scientism; and many others. We need to challenge the concept of the earth as inanimate, as resource for our use, rather than the knowing the earth as alive with intentionality, meaning and purpose.

It is our industrial way of life, and our industrial way of thinking, that needs to be challenged.