I’ve been a whole earth tempeh eating pain in the butt for most of my adult life. Minnesota has always sported a huge number of food co-operatives, and I have been a member of three of them, and been employed as produce manager at one of them. Keeping our environment clean and healthy has always been in the forefront of important issues for me and my family.
It’s a fact that our physical health is tempered by an unclean environment It has also been proven that our financial stability as a nation and world is challenged by pollution But what about our mental well-being?
In an article in this month’s Unte Reader called Ecopsychology: Whole Earth Mental Health, Katherine Rowland explores this question. I recall having a great conversation a few years back with one of the members of our local co-op on this topic. One premise is that when we disenfranchise ourselves from nature, we forget the importance of it for our spiritual and mental growth. When consuming becomes more important than cultivating, we have lost some stability in our lives.
I guess there was something to my folks yelling at me to turn off the Matinee Movie and go outside.
Here’s an excerpt. If you find time today give this article a read. Then maybe, turn off the computer for a few minutes and go outside. It’s 0 degrees here in central Minnesota today, but I’m going to brave the elements for a bit, and believe I’d rather be sitting here writing.
The seeming simplicity of this question obscures its underlying radicalism. “Psychology, as part of the Western tradition, is a Cartesian enterprise,” says Doherty. “It consciously tries to separate humans from the rest of nature.” The widely accepted rift between nature and humanity has supposed roots as broad and deep as the advent of language, of agriculture, the legacy of the Enlightenment. Ecopsychology endeavors to explode the nature-culture, mind-body binaries that for centuries have informed how we measure sanity and health. This bifurcating tendency doesn’t preserve civilization from savagery, but rather is at the murky core of modern pathologies, like anxiety, substance abuse, and compulsive shopping. In other words, it is only because we are at such a remove from nature that we can behave the way we do: using resources with no regard for consequence, consuming goods with no thought as to their production. Doherty asks “what if we were to reinvent psychology so that at its heart it was an ecological discipline?” Could changing our relationship to nature hold the key to mental health?