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Is the Natural World a Commodity?

“There is a certain futility in the efforts being made – truly sincere, dedicated, and intelligent efforts – to remedy our environmental devastation simply by activating renewable sources of energy and by reducing the deleterious impact of the industrial world. The difficulty is that the natural world is seen primarily for human use, not as a mode of sacred presence primarily to be communed with in wonder, beauty and intimacy. In our present attitude the natural world remains a commodity to be bought and sold, not a sacred reality to be venerated. A deep psychic shift is needed to withdraw us from the fascination of the industrial world and the deceptive gifts that it gives us... Eventually, only our sense of the sacred will save us.”

— Thomas Berry

The Most Precious Jewel, 1998-2000, Plaza of Santa Fe

Peace, or the lack of it, is on everyone’s mind. Peace, at home and in the world, has been my passion ever since I can remember. My passion for Peace and my passion for Earth have been the prime motivators of my life. I never saw them as one, simply they were my calling… that is until I came across the work of theologian Thomas Berry and read the following words from The Dream of the Earth: “Peace might well be understood primarily in terms of the Peace of Earth. This is not simply Pax Romana or Pax Humana, but Pax Gaia, the Peace of Earth, from the ancient mythic name for the planet. We can understand this Peace of Earth, however, only if we understand that the earth is a single community composed of all its geological, biological, and human components. The Peace of Earth is indivisible. In this context the nations have a referent outside themselves for resolving their difficulties…” May it be so. And may we remember Thomas Berry, cultural historian and eco-theologian, whose birth we celebrate on November 9th. Thomas Berry is also the hero and main inspirer behind The Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World, a children’s school in Greensboro, North Carolina, which I am enamored with and wish would multiply. It seems fitting to end this email with a quote by Black Elk, Native American holy man of the Oglala Lakota people, that echoes Thomas Berry so well, such a lover of the earth. "The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."

P.S. Another peace hero of mine is Mahatma Gandhi whose birth I celebrated on October 2nd. He is known for his non-violence stand, but he also was an Earth Lover. There is more of this way to explore the deep connectivity for all things on Earth in my book “The heartist’s Secret,” available on, or go to my website

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