Relationship and Healing
By Andrew Kimbrell
I have no panacea for addressing the growing threats of cold evil, entwined as they are with so much of our daily lives in our technological society. However the first step is awareness. As we confront the terrorists’ “hot” evil, we must not use the fact that the vast majority of us are not involved in this kind of evil as a vindication of our own society or our personal ethics. Rather we must avoid this trap and finally confront the cold evil with which we are complicit and recognize the potential catastrophic threat it represents to ourselves and Creation.
As for dealing with cold evil directly, I know that there cannot be healing or atonement without relationship. And to restore our relationships to one another and the natural world we must shatter the distancing so critical for cold evil. A first step could be to cease distancing ourselves as “consumers.” The word “consume” means to destroy (as in a consuming fire) or waste (tuberculosis was called consumption because it wastes away the body). We must no longer be mere consumers, destroying and wasting the natural world. We must no longer be complicit in the crimes of our industrial system. To face cold evil we must become “creators” not consumers. We must break our techno-cocoons and truly see that each action we take in deciding which products we buy, or services we use, creates a very different future for ourselves and the earth. We must take responsibility for the consequences of how we fulfill our basic human needs.
We must also change our relationship to work. We can no longer be content with mere jobs and the wage blackmail through which cold evil works. Despite the often overwhelming economic pressures, we must at least attempt to seek a vocation, a “calling,” that expresses our values and fits our needs. Our work should be a “profession,” a profession of our beliefs-good work whose consequences we can embrace.
Ultimately confronting cold evil requires us to begin dismantling the structures and systems in which it thrives. Author Kirkpatrick Sale has urged us to reconsider the importance of “human scale.” Moving toward the restoration of human scale in our social and production systems as alternatives to current global scale organizations and technologies may be the only way to permanently defeat the distancing that has been such a moral disaster for modern man.
In the memorable phrase of Father Thomas Berry, our current economic and technological system has turned all of nature from a community of subjects into a collection of objects. To restore relationship and begin healing we must again treat the living kingdom as a community of subjects, each with its own meaning and destiny, none as merely exploitable objects or means of production. Moving towards this new moral community involves nothing less than replacing the infrastructure of cold evil with technologies and human systems which are responsive to our physical and spiritual needs and the needs of the rest of the biotic community. This means evolving a means of production and social organization for which we can take true responsibility. It is a daunting, almost overwhelming task, but the alternative is to continue to live in state of cold evil, complicit in the current system’s crimes and distanced from relationship and healing. This we can no longer do.