Teach Kids to Heal the Earth

To mend our culture and heal the earth, we must teach kids to learn from nature through careful mentorship.

| March/April 2014

Very early in life I found myself deep in the forest speaking words into the wild landscape that surrounded me, “I want to make the most difference, for the greatest number of people, that will last the longest time.” That has been my mission ever since.

Today I live in Putney, Vermont, part of a vibrant community nestled in the Green Mountains. With the birth of my young daughter, the questions that had driven my life took on an even clearer tone. I’m committed to her future, and that of her children and the children I’ll never meet. What can I do with my life to ensure them health and happiness?

My time in nature has made clear to me that we live in a broken culture. The culture of empire and the culture of the machine can never be regenerative. In the great sweep of human life, some million and half years of our working with fire, 5,000 generations speaking languages, 30,000 years of sophisticated art, the time of empires and the time of machines is short; it will not last. These things are temporary provided they do not destroy the heritage of what went before. How could we preserve and reclaim that heritage?

Humans are cultural animals. Our evolution continues along paths that we direct through our choices, patterns, and behaviors. Even more importantly—we pass culture along through initiation and story. If we have a broken culture, how can we again become whole people? As I searched for effective tools and practices to ensure that I lived up to my promise, one truth emerged: healthy culture can trump the messages and patterns of modern life. By that I mean, the cultural context of a learning situation is more powerful and influential than the content or even the learning environment. The context of modern learning is the broken culture of empire and of the machine. I had to find a way to repair the broken culture around me.

Cultural repair has many aspects, but all involve remembering, restoring, and reinventing the invisible fabric of understanding that produces happy, healthy people and healthy land. Just as permaculture derives its power from understanding the regenerative capacities and logic of nature, so cultural repair arises from the assumption that there is a core logic to human societies and their relation to the living world. Since 1999, I have worked with Jon Young, author of What the Robin Knows, in the field of culture repair. We have travelled the world leading more than 60 courses in the Art of Mentoring.

Healthy people and land

Everywhere different according to the gifts of each natural environment, cultures that have endured hold in common many things intrinsic to the human genome, to the way we learn, grow, mature, reproduce, age, and die. This transcendent cultural logic is closely patterned to our brains, senses, and glandular systems, which have not changed much at all during the time of empire, and even less during the time of machines. These conditions—about which our present culture teaches little—can still be accessed through nature, which was our original teacher. Thus, the great tool of cultural repair is Nature Connection, reconnecting human beings and human culture to the larger whole of which they are a part. This is the essence of all healing.

6/9/2014 7:23:42 AM

An important way to change culture and improve the world is by changing the thinking of people. A great philosophy to do that is Deism. Deism is belief in The Supreme Intelligence/God based on the application of our reason on the laws and designs in Nature. Deists believe the designs in Nature point us to the Designer. Deism is Nature friendly as this paragraph from the Membership Application of the World Union of Deists makes clear: "As an advocate of the natural religion/philosophy, Deism, I will foster environmental awareness. Instead of looking upon Nature as something that needs to be "subdued" and "taken dominion over", as the Bible teaches, I will look upon it as something beautiful and fragile that I am a living part of, and that I owe a responsibility to. I will enjoy Nature, and protect it." The more we get the word out about Deism, the better things will be for people and for the environment. Progress! Bob Johnson www.deism.com