Friday, January 23, 2009

Got Smarts? Use them well.

It is worth noting that environmental devastation is not the work of ignorant people. Rather it is largely the results of work by people with BAs, BSs, LLBs, MBAs, and PhDs. Elie Wiesel once made the same point, noting that the designers and perpetrators of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Buchenwald-the Holocaust-were the heirs of Kant and Goethe, widely thought to be the best educated people on earth. But their education did not serve as an adequate barrier to barbarity. What was wrong with their education? in Wiesel's words, "It emphasized theories instead of values, concepts rather than human beings, abstraction rathr than consciousness, answers rather than questions, ideology and efficiency rather than conscience."

I believe that the same could be said of our education. Towards the natural world it too emphasizes theories, not values; abstraction rather than consciousness; neat answers instead of questions;and technical efficiency over conscience. It is a matter of no small consequence that the only people who have lived sustainably on the planet for any length of time could not read or like the Amish do not make a fetish of reading.
-David Orr, Earth in Mind

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