What is wrong with hugging trees?
Any review of the situation of Life on Earth can readily conclude that preserving the environment that we humans all live in, preserving the very air we breath, the water we drink and the food we need, is critically important and something we must apply ourselves to with great determination. If we continue to consume, destroy and pollute this pale blue dot we all live on, how will we survive? How will the planet survive? No-one could possibly argue that for Humanity to have a future, we must preserve and look after this small oasis of life that is Earth.
If looking after our planet is a ‘no-brainer’, why then, is the self-appointed custodian of the natural world, the Environmental Movement one of the most destructive fallacies on the planet? Why is imposing care of our natural environment on all so dangerous to the survival of us and the planet? What is wrong with hugging trees?
Jeremy Griffith explains the problem in the very first sentence of his 4-minute Introduction to the human condition video from the Introductory Videos on the homepage of this website: ‘In recent times environmental issues have dominated our concerns, but we have only been focusing on the symptoms. To fix all the runaway problems we are surrounded with—in fact to stop the destruction of our world and the disintegration of society that is happening everywhere we look—we have to fix the cause of the problems, which is us humans. We are the problem: our out-of-control egocentric, selfish, competitive and aggressive behaviour.’
Yes, after studying and understanding Jeremy Griffith’s biological explanation of the human condition, I can certainly vouch for the fact that it is only through understanding and thus healing our species’ underlying psychosis, that ‘our out-of-control egocentric, selfish, competitive and aggressive behaviour’ can subside. We can only solve any problem by addressing its source. Therefore it is only once the cause of our species underlying psychosis and neurosis can be explained, understood and ameliorated that we can begin to truly take on saving the natural environment of this planet.
In 1992 Severn Cullis-Suzuki, the then 12 year old daughter of geneticist and environmental activist David Suzuki, with three young friends, raised their own money to go and speak at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the so-called Rio Earth Summit. In her presentation to the World’s Leaders she implored them to consider the future of the environment (see her talk here). At the time, I was profoundly affected by her presentation—not because of her appeal as a child who bravely spoke out about something she was passionate about, but because of the complete lack of response to a very articulate presentation on why we should be looking after the environment. How could a 12 year old’s very real concerns fail to make any change?
It was only some years later, after I had read Jeremy Griffith’s book Beyond the Human Condition, that, as I began understanding the human condition and the extent of the associated alienation in all of us, I could look back on that time and the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness that I had when I heard that speech and really understand why the world couldn’t respond to Severn’s passionate and honest pleas. It was a life-changing moment when I realised that the environment wasn’t the real issue at all and that in fact it was us and our deeply psychologically distressed human condition. And as I looked into the issue even deeper through the understandings presented in ‘Beyond’ I eventually understood why dogmatically imposing an ‘environment first’ approach was so dangerous to the future of humanity.
Jeremy Griffith addresses this exact question Isn’t the destruction of the environment the real issue? in Section 1:6 of Freedom: Expanded Book 2 and the Introductory Videos on this site.
“The truth is that focusing on the environment was a way of avoiding the real issue of ‘self’. It was a way of relieving yourself of the issue of the human condition through finding a cause that made you feel good about yourself. It was a way of escaping the unbearable issue of the human condition rather than a way of ‘saving the world’, as environmentalists deluded themselves they were doing. TIME magazine editor Richard Stengel recognised this when he wrote that ‘The environment became the last best cause, the ultimate guilt-free issue’ (TIME mag. 31 Dec. 1990).
Yes, environmentalism, as it has been practiced, has been a way to make humans feel good, feel ‘guilt-free’, rather than a way to repair the world, because actually repairing the world required that we confront and repair ourselves and the interest of environmentalists was in doing the exact opposite, namely avoiding the issue of ‘self’–finding a way to feel good and thereby avoid having to confront the real issue of ‘self’. Environmentalists were concerned with escaping the issue of the human condition, when we had to confront and solve it if we wanted to end all the suffering and destruction going on in the world. They were leading humanity in the opposite direction to where humanity’s freedom lay. The truth is, the Green Movement has ultimately been a selfish, destructive enterprise, not the selfless, constructive one its advocates deluded themselves it was.
We humans haven’t been prepared to confront the real issue of ‘self’. In fact, we have been preoccupied finding every possible way to escape the issue of ‘self’. Materialism, for example, was about surrounding ourselves with material luxuries to make ourselves feel good about ourselves; it was a form of compensation for feeling unworthy, a way of keeping the insecurity of the human condition at bay. The difference between materialism and causes like environmentalism is that at least with materialism we weren’t pretending to be ideally behaved.
I should mention that the march to ever greater levels of delusion and dishonesty through taking up ever more deluded pseudo idealistic causes to make ourselves feel good, to escape the real issue of the human condition, is more fully described, explained and exposed in Part 3:11H of Freedom: Expanded Book 1.
To conclude this question, the great impasse humanity needed to overcome was not the issue of our destruction of the environment, it was our inability to look at ourselves–we couldn’t address the human condition; we couldn’t explain why we have been such a massively selfish, competitive, aggressive, angry, egocentric, superficial, artificial, escapist, materialistic, self-obsessed, indifferent-to-others-and-to-the-world, alienated, deluded, fraudulent, duplicitous, pretentious, numb, seared, soul-destroyed, effectively dead species–but now at last we can. And, most wonderfully, by explaining the good reason why we humans became so artificial, selfish, competitive and aggressive we can permanently heal that immensely troubled state, rehabilitate our species and, in doing so, rehabilitate our planet.
Saving the environment depended on finding redeeming and ameliorating understanding of ourselves. If you want to save the snow leopard, or the giant Redwoods, or the Okavango delta, or the Amazon, or the atmosphere, or the Earth, or those you love, or yourself, or the human race, this is the only path that can achieve that–so the truth is the sooner you support and adopt this path of TRANSFORMATION through understanding the better. The choice is self-destruction or self-discovery. Unfortunately, self-distraction–finding ways to escape the issue of self such as finding causes that make you feel good about yourself–is the ‘abomination that causes desolation’ (see Dan. 11, Matt. 24, Mark 13), the path to oblivion, the answer to absolutely nothing. It is no wonder the leading environmentalist David Suzuki conceded in 2012 that ‘Environmentalism has failed’ (The fundamental failure of environmentalism, 3 May 2012).”
I love Jeremy Griffith’s explanation of the human condition for many reasons, but the one I love most is that I can now know, can trust, can understand and can visualise very simply and rationally how the world is going to be saved. As a reformed environmentalist myself I can tell you that saving the world by hugging trees, doesn’t work, never worked and never will, just as David Suzuki himself concluded. At best it has provided a balance to all our selfish destruction that we have caused while we searched for the knowledge that could truly save ourselves and our planet. The real thing that needs hugging is the dark side of all humans and these all-confronting and all-compassionate understandings do just that, they allow us to love (by understanding) the dark side of ourselves and that is the most wonderful feeling imaginable.