Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Are You Looking for a Soul, Brother?

I read in the newspaper a few days ago that Prince Charles was making a speech to some Islamic organisation and he said that he saw the current environmental crises as a "crisis of the soul" for Western civilisation.

Now the media and others like to poke fun at Prince Charles, but he strikes me as the only real intellectual in the British Royal family. He actually thinks deeply about things and cares about things and is passionate in his views.

His comments struck a chord with me because I have often being mulling this over myself in recent years. I don't think I'm all that materialistic. When people ask me what I want for birthdays or Christmas, I never really know. As long as I have my wife, my sons, a surfboard, a wetsuit and a car of some reasonable reliability to get me to the surf, and I suppose a computer to do my writing on, then I don't really want for more. Sure, my sons are getting bigger by the day and we may need to buy a bigger home to accommodate them, but I'm happy in the ordinary three-bedroom weatherboard house we do own (in partnership with the Bank). I sometimes fantasise about being able to afford a four-wheel drive vehicle to get to the more remote surf spots, but it doesn't faze me that I don't possess such a thing.

But Prince Charles is right. Western society has been geared to consumerism for so long that it has undermined our spiritual values. As he said, the environment seems to be seen as only a "what's in it for us" scenario. Often we don't see the value of things just as they are.

The Native Americans saw themselves, human beings, as just one strand in the web of life, no more or no less important than any other life-form. Western society has elevated us to the Master and we have not been very good stewards of the natural world.

I was brought up a Catholic, but I don't subscribe to any organised religion. I don't think you have to be religious to be spiritual. In fact, many so-called religious people don't seem all that spiritual. There is a lot of evil done in the name of religion.

I think Prince Charles is right. We need to bring human spirituality to the fore in order to reverse the terrible environmental destruction going on globally. It is like many campaigners say, we see the value in saving cuddly things, but we don't put our hands up to save an endangered spider or the endangered Great White shark.

We need a sense of real perspective. Everything from the smallest beetle to the tiniest flower to the mighty Kauri tree to the Blue Whale needs our protection. I'd rather walk through pristine wilderness alive with birdsong any day than buy a Plasma TV.

We need to find our souls again, brothers and sisters!

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