What does it mean to be who and what we are on Earth?

Belief and behavior might constitute the greatest challenges we face as we confront the myriad problems of modern life. They certainly make a transition to a sustainable world difficult.

Every day "life" seems to get faster and faster.

We can feel trapped in an ever-tighter iron cage of our own technology while we call for more of it that does whatever it does faster than the one that we called for the year before. People want a beautiful landscape to look at and walk in and yet the electricity that we require for our way of life makes us destroy mountain tops in Appalachia to dig for coal. Most of us believe in the right to clean drinking water but to power our buses or our computers we turn millions of gallons of water into toxic brine to hydrofracture the Marcellus Shale to extract natural gas.

The author David Orr describes the tie between our prosperity and its unsustainability a social trap, a "tragedy of the commons" writ large.

Climate change. Global habitat loss. Species extinction.

All of these things come about because we believe things. What do we believe? What should we believe? What can we believe that might raise our ecological consciousness? What would happen if we lived as if life - perhaps that should be LIFE - really mattered?

Our guests today will talk to us about these issues today. Dana Stuchul (Assistant Professor of Education - Penn State), Christopher Uhl (Professor of Biology - Penn State), and Tsultrim Datso (Buddhist contemplative) all invite current and future teachers and all of us into different ways of thinking about our own educations and others' educations in ways that bring our beliefs about our place in the social, spiritual, and natural world to the fore. The three of them work to bring mindfulness into formal education. What we believe matters. How can we believe, act, and be more sustainable?

Perhaps we can get something of an answer chapter 10, "Empowerment: Transforming Self, Transforming Society," of Uhl's book, Developing Ecological Consciousness: Path to a Sustainable World:
In the early stages of the industrial revolution, people knew they were living in a time of great change. The situation is similar today. We live in a time of transition and tumult - a time when we feel a great hunger for meaning and purpose.

The sustainability revolution has come forth out of this turmoil. This revolution challenges society to redefine its bottom line - which, of course, is what makes "sustainability" such a necessary, as well as radical, concept. The shift away from a culture based on exploitation, profit, militarism, and separation to one based on sustainability - that is, one grounded in stewardship, interdependence, social justice, and peace - will not come easily.

In order for this new paradigm to take root in society, three conditions must be satisfied. First, we must have a compelling vision of the new, life-sustaining world that lies ahead. Second, citizens must believe that the radical changes required to create this life-sustaining society, are possible. Finally, major social transformations, such as those implicit in a sustainability revolution, depend on an actice and educated citizenry, skilled in the creative use of power. The practices that accompany these three foundations explore the role of vision, activism, and insight in personal empowerment and transformation.
Today, we will explore how this might begin and where it might lead. My bet is, given the demeanor of these people, that the journey will be infused with joy and that one of the great goals is to create a convivial society, a society the philosopher Ivan Illich remarked would maximize "individual freedom realized in personal interdependence.”

Join us this afternoon from 4-5 pm on The Lion, 90.7.

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