Nature feeds us, the earth carries us

We civilized people are still children of the earth and nature – the earth carries us, nature feeds us. From the earth we draw the resources for life, especially life-giving water, and metals for our things, which we use to help us live well on earth. The fruits of the earth nourish us. Even our computer is made of the stuff of the earth. So let us recognize the earth as one of the elements, let us care for it as we care for the other elements, as we care for the water that quenches our thirst, for the air we breathe, for the soil we walk on and from which trees and crops grow. We are children of the earth – and we have learned to deal with fire, which provides us with heat and energy in its various forms, and we may well ignite nuclear fusion in less than 35 years.

Moving towards renewables

And so, we should not abandon the idea of renewables now, lest we have to write like the Czech political scientist Alexander Tomsky (*1947): “Arable land is declining, humanity is increasing, the cutting of tropical forests ... is damaging the planet’s lungs…” soil erosion is increasing and greenhouse gases are not decreasing. We therefore need a truly new vision for the nations and for the world, a deeper philosophical reflection. It is now a question of a completely new direction and a genuine harmony between whole communities, so that a new alliance can finally be found – an authentic alliance between man and nature. We have somewhat separated ourselves as humans from nature, but the time has come for a fully conscious alignment with nature and the land, or the hidden power of nature itself will destroy us (we could end up like Venus). Nature therefore needs to be cared for in a whole new healthy conservative way, lest nature eventually spit us out like a destructive poisonous pip (as the saying goes). Those who mindlessly cut down more and more trees and forests/woodlands, those who cultivate monocultures, deserve nothing less. Whoever kills sharks just for their fins, elephants and rhinos for their tusks, etc. to satisfy the misguided needs of some unreasonable and gluttonous people deserves nothing else. We need to develop more humility towards nature.

The road to an overall favorable biophilic use of renewable resources will certainly be a strenuous one. We won't be able to create the best machines for harnessing solar, wind, hydro and nuclear energy right away, but there is no other way than to keep trying better and better windmills, solar and hydro plants that will eventually be in tune with nature and our aesthetic sensibilities. New theories will emerge from the original meditations of scientists and creators, so far, the fire of meditative thinking is burning within us, through which truth can twinkle. No black inquisitor can succeed in denying those thinkers who open brighter horizons for human sojourn on earth.

Breaking out of false optimism

Today, some are still stuck in the mindset (there is a good deal of dogmatism involved) that man and his industry are not contributing "fundamentally" to increasing global warming, blaming it on solar and cosmic cycles, etc. It's a comforting myth, meant to steer man away from a higher vigilance towards nature and towards a blissful contentment: nothing much is happening yet, we're still breathing some air, technology will make sure we're still cool. They are eternal optimists, and they are often still watched over by a kind of comforting providence that God will eventually get it right and not abandon us. This idea is also somewhat misguided, because it also lulls one into the illusion of the eternal optimists that, if not technology, God will not just abandon us and will eventually arrange everything to our full satisfaction. However, a healthy conservative (i.e., protective) and realistic view cannot be so "simply" and naively optimistic. Of course, it cannot be just as easily pessimistic either; basic hope should not abandon us. Indeed, as the German phenomenological philosopher, ontologist, and poet Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) predicted, technology can save us in the end. What saves us is being grateful in the face of being itself.

The feature of permanent "eternity" (though finite) is surely carried by the universe as a whole, and so we fix our future hope on it, the hope of courageous universe-creators who will, from their own meditations and deep reflections, open favorable horizons for man residing here on Earth. In the meantime, we can also cultivate our wise and biophilic relationship with nature and all its elements. Let us let ourselves be permeated by them, only in this way can we have an experience with them that will inspire us and ultimately lead us to protect and providentially care for them. We cannot care only for ourselves – which is often mere unrestrained egoism – but we must also take proper care of our surroundings, of the earth, of all the elements that carry the world and through which being itself gushes out. To care for yourself today is to care for you, nature, so that you may come alive again, undevastated, and live on in intimate communion with us who are awakening here on earth to our ever-renewed sensitivity to you.

Beyond optimism and pessimism

It is in our human interest today to transcend gross anthropocentrism and voluntarism towards nature and other beings (including whales, lions, corals, trees, etc.), to seek true communion even with non-human beings, to be in unity with the whole of natural existence and the cosmos. This is the only way to make our way to a good livelihood – the way of sustainable economy, the way of unceasing scientific endeavor. This path should happen beyond false optimism and pessimism. Although the apocalyptic of life will always touch us, massive supervolcanoes may explode at any time, a planet or asteroid may arrive at any time, the moon may one day fly away, the globe may re-polarize at any time, etc. Even politics may run wild and will depend on truly educated and responsible people of the Masaryk type getting ahead. This type comes from a deep immersion in oneself, when we feel ourselves and are able, as the German philosopher, phenomenologist, and Moravian-born Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) said, even to feel and find our transcendental subjectivity, from which alone can flow true knowledge of the world, ourselves, and others. On the one hand, it will be a matter of returning to the world again, perceiving it realistically and practically, whereby, as phenomenological thinkers such as Jan Patočka (1907-1977) and Martin Heidegger have shown us, the existential-ontological possibilities of our stay on earth may also become clearer, whereby we are able to go back to our peaks, to the limits of our possibilities – in attunement to living being.

With the overcoming of an aggressive attitude towards the world and nature and ourselves, the idea of sustainable living can be further cultivated – to sustain life on Earth not only for a thousand years, but for much longer. It will be a matter of changing our attitude towards the world and nature; our capitalism will also have to be much more “gentle,” where ecosystems (and man with them) will not suffer under the thud of bluntly falling hooves of unregulated (arrogant) capitalism. A new thinking will be needed, one that is green-Heideggerian in nature, free from the insatiable lust for and wanton capturing that leads to an early end. Then we will let beings be what they are – live its natural and free life, give up the various social-engineering activisms (including the various multiculti-neomarxisms) and surrender to the true sources of life, the pure origins of being.

Trusting reality

The Czech philosopher and ecosopher Erazim Kohák (1933-2020) also writes about the human ability to "accept the presence of reality in its immediacy". It is an unmediated participation in life, in the present, where we participate non-discursively in the nature of being. This participation of ours can only be true and genuine, and only in this way can we achieve the awareness that we will not ultimately arbitrarily destroy our reality (reality), but will instead cultivate and renew it in a properly biophilic way. Our home, our being, can be lovingly nurtured. Only then can a piece of the sacred reality of heaven shine through, that "holy fire" to which poets (like the German poet and thinker Friedrich Hölderlin, who lived from 1770-1843) and real thinkers like Patočka and Heidegger are able to tune in. In this way, the desired ideal is ever present in our reality, it can shine through our meaningful activity, and in our "light clearings" we can experience the truth of being in glimpses.

This truth continues to shine through our reality. It will be about cultivating our realism vividly and effectively despite the ruinance of the world of the decadent media and bureaucratic (European) politicians. Philosophers, too, can learn greater humility in the self-enhancement of their knowledge. The greedy inquisitors among them (they still exist) should be hacked out by the light of the real and illuminated clearings, should be blowed up as unpleasant omnivorous black bugs who delight in mere negation, in denying the thinking truthers.

The truth of the world, the truth of being, can still be shown to us; it will be a matter of not succumbing to the suggestions of supposedly post-truth reality, the fatalism of false determinism, the various contrived speculations and malevolent constructions of the day. The basic reality remains nature and the unfolding history in which our awakening lives take place. From the possible decay of our lives and from the alienation of nature we can rise, wake up like a phoenix from a distorted reality, opening up to the sources of true being.

© Jiří Olšovský

Original Czech version of this article in: Envigogika,12 (1), 23. 7. 2017


Jiří Olšovský

Existenciální filosof a básník. Působil v Masarykově a ve Filosofickém ústavu AV ČR jako badatel (PhDr., Ing., Ph.D.). Zabývá se převážně existenciální a fenomenologickou filosofií (M. Heidegger, J. Patočka, T. G. Masaryk, S. Kierkegaard).