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Your thoughts on our moral state?

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By Thomas Schmidt

I would like to hear other SpokaneFāVS people’s thoughts after reading this statement by Aldo Leopold in his “A Sand County Almanac:”

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.

When I came across Leopold’s statement three times last week, in three different contexts, I could not help but think that something is pulling us to pay attention to this basic moral value of our creation in God’s image. It is not a simple statement of the definition of our lives lived out of the ecological balance that we are manifesting around us. We in our materialistic, self-aggrandizing lifestyles are violating ourselves by building ourselves as idols of accumulation and possession, not as equally needed members of a community. I thought of Paul’s listing of the parts of the body. I thought of the games we entertain ourselves with in which we win by getting and controlling more.  And I cried when I thought of how much I miss a true community, all protecting the life force of every other particle in this wondrous community of life and growth in which we each live out our brief allotments.

God, if there is a god, is a God of Community. We have shoved that aside and imposed ourselves as gods of commodity. No wonder Moses got angry when, coming down off the mountain after leading the people out of Pharos’s bondage to the economic system of hording more and more of Egypt’s GNP by the rich he found these very people had returned to worshiping golden idols. And if we can’t join in that hording of the last of the material wealth our world possesses, at least we can be distracted by our proclivity to being entertained by the weird and unusual, or the cute, or frightened senseless by the threat of violence and war. We trump the serious values and problems of life and love with more clowns.

Seriously, I want to hear the thoughts generated by consideration of Leopold’s summation of our moral state.

Thomas Schmidt

About Thomas Schmidt

Thomas Schmidt is a retired psychotherapist and chemical dependency counselor who belongs to the Sufi Ruhiniat International order of Sufi’s and is a drummer in the Spokane Sufi group and an elder at the Country Homes Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church. He is a member of the Westar Institute (The Jesus Seminar people). He studied for the ministry in the late 1950’s at Texas Christian Church and twice married Janet Fowler, a member of a long tern TCU family and a Disciple minister. He was active in the Civil Rights Movement, studying philosophy at Columbia University and psychology in the University of North Carolina university system. He has taught philosophy and psychology, and was professionally active in Florida, North Carolina, and, for 25 years in Spokane. He has studied and practiced Siddha Yoga, Zen Buddhism and, since the mid 1970’s, Sufism and the Dances of Universal Peace. He has three sons and three grandchildren. With the death of his wife, Janet, he is continuing their concentration on human rights, ecology, and ecumenical and interfaith reconciliation.

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  • Neal Schindler

    I read the other day in Nextdoor a neighbor’s report (not in my neighborhood) of an incident of fatal animal cruelty. This unfortunate neighbor came across the evidence.

    I think people have to see themselves as sharing the planet with other life forms. They’re not for us to use however we want. They’re for us to treat with the kind of respect and dignity we would want others to accord us. This is an extreme example, but as a species we do treat our fellow humans, the planet, and other species quite poorly far too often. The interdependence of all life may not be an especially Western concept, but it’s one we must increasingly embrace if we’re to survive, and in the meantime, if we’re to hold onto our souls.

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