Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We're Really In This Together

Arne Naess, a mountain climber and philosopher from Norway, died on January 12 at the age of 96 years. Naess dared to believe that all life is connected. He wrote books about this belief and he lectured throughout the world. He coined the term 'deep ecology'. Ecology, he taught, should not be concerned with man's place in nature but with every part of nature on an equal basis, because the natural order has intrinsic value that transcends human values.
He urged the green movement to "not only protect the planet for the sake of humans, but also, for the sake of the planet itself, to keep ecosystems healthy for their own sake".
Shallow ecology, the obvious opposite of deep ecology, embraced -- according to Naess -- thinking that the big ecological problems could be resolved within an industrial, capitalist society. Deep meant asking deeper questions and understanding that society itself has caused the Earth-threatening ecological crisis.
Naess was also an activist, inspired by Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring. In 1970, together with a large number of demonstrators, he chained himself to rocks in front of Mardalsfossen, a waterfall in a Norwegian fjord, and refused to descend until plans to build a dam were dropped. The demonstrators were carried away by police but the action was a success. He was the first chairman of Greenpeace Norway.
As a mountain climber, Naess urged us to 'think like a mountain'.
His teachings and his writings were informed by Spinoza, the 17th century Jewish philosopher who taught that God is present throughout nature.
"We don't say that every living being has the same value as a human, but that it has an intrinsic value which is not quantifiable. It is not equal or unequal. It has a right to live and blossom. I may kill a mosquito if it is on the face of my baby but I will never say I have a higher right to life than a mosquito."
He was knighted by King Harald in 2005 and made a commander with star of the Royal Norwegian order of St Olav First Class.
If all of this isn't enough to convince us that the world lost a friend, Arne Naess is survived by his wife, by his two children, and by his former niece by marriage, Diana Ross once of the Supremes.
Now we really do see how powerfully we are all connected.


Anonymous said...

I, too, believe we are all connected whether we want to believe it or not - we are connected!

Arava said...

great story- great post...We are one.

Anonymous said...

I, too, would kill the mosquito but I would take no delight in the killing.