In Search of an Environmental Policy: Some Radical Propositions


I. Prelude: Diagnosis of the Dis-ease

1. Nothing fails like yesterdays solutions.

2. Most social, psychological, and spiritual dilemmas are solved, or dissolved, by expanding the context within which they are viewed.

3. Change your questions and you will alter your vision.

4. What is “practical” depends on your ideology, myth or vision.

5. Policy is always the application of someone’s vision.

6. Mistaking a symptom for the dis-ease worsens the illness.

7. It is only by considering a chaotic diversity of symptoms that we can make a good diagnosis.

8. Hope for significant change emerges precisely within the condition of disintegration that seems to invite us to despair.

9. The present dark night of social anarchy offers a greater opportunity for systemic change than the superficial optimism of the l950’s,the psychedelic utopianism of the l960’s, the neo-realism of the l970’s or the unbounded greed of the l980’s.

l0. A good environmental policy can only emerge from considering the context of the entire post-modern political agenda—the population explosion, the cancerous growth of megalopolis, urban blight, structural unemployment, the growth of a perpetual underclass, the disintegration of family and community bonds, crime, the climate of violence, the eclipse of a sense of meaning, value and the sacredness of life, and (most importantly for the policy suggestions I want to make), the abandonment of rural and village life.

II. In Search of a Vision of Environmental Health

ll. Changing our vision of our place in nature,our relationship to the environment, our way of organizing our economic life to insure the hope of a sustainable future for our children is the central spiritual and political challenge of our age.

12. As presently conceptualized, a healthy (perpetually expanding) economy is dependent on perpetuating an environmentally sickening style of consumption.

13. Current efforts to save the environment are formulated under the supposedly realistic mandate that they must not have a negative effect on the economy, lead to the loss of jobs, imperil our competitive advantage.

l4. No policy formulated from within the perspectives of the economic myth, the myth of progress, the myth of the free market, or the ideology of urban life, will be adequate to the central spiritual and political challenge of our age.

15. The syllogism that points toward a new vision and policy is:

We can only heal what we love. We can only love what we touch. We can only touch what is proximate.

16. Formulating a policy that will implement a healing relationship to the environment requires us to visualize ways in which a majority of citizens can love, touch and remain proximate to the natural world. That 3% of our population produces the food for the remaining 97% is a symptom of our alienation from the environment, an index of our exile from the elemental truth of air, earth, fire, water, plant, and animal life which is the abiding context of human life.

III. Medicines and Means of Healing: Policy Implications.

17. A major aim of environmental policy should be to slow, halt and reverse the worldwide pattern of population migration from rural areas, villages and towns to megalopolis. (This will require us to challenge the ideology that unconsciously assumes that the trend toward urbanization is inevitable and desirable)

l8. We need to reconceptualize and create innovative approaches to the economies of village, small town and rural life. To date, government agencies have been of little help in revitalizing the culture and economics of “depressed” rural areas that are losing their traditional mainstays of farming and logging. With the revolution in telecommunications, rural areas are no longer remote and removed.

19. We need to promote homesteading programs that will make it possible for a generation of young pioneers to create a new type of modern family farm based on the practice of sustainable agriculture.

20. We need programs that will aid retired people on fixed incomes living in cities to relocate in, and revitalize, small towns and villages.

21. We need a department of Urban Agriculture to promote the greening of the cities. (During World War ll a majority of Americans, and Germans grew victory gardens)

22. Federal, state and local departments of education need to be encouraged to experiment with ways of giving children some direct, hands-on, experience of growing, tending and harvesting.

In the same measure that it would be irresponsible to neglect to teach the young to deal with the emerging information technology, it is irresponsible to ignore their environmental education.

Sam Keen Ph.D. Author,etc.