Friday, January 6, 2012

The Parable of the Titanic

This is an excerpt from "The Great Work" - Thomas Berry, 1999. This is an amazing book especially coming as it does from a Roman Catholic priest. I believe Berry took plenty of flak from his employers over his progressive views of Creation during his lifetime. However, he has left us a legacy bridge between the religious and secular factions of society, a bridge which could bring us all together to toil on his "Great Work" - nothing less than a complete re-building of our relationship with Earth - a "Great Read".

"In April of the year 1912 the Titanic, on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic. struck an iceberg and went down at sea. Long before the collision those in command had abundant evidence that icebergs lay ahead. The course had been set, however, and no one wished to alter its direction. Confidence in the survival capacities of the ship was unbounded. Already there were a multitude of concerns in carrying out the normal routine of a voyage. What happened to that "unsinkable" ship is a kind of parable for us, since only in the most dire situations do we have the psychic energy needed to examine our way of acting on the scale that is now required. The daily concerns over the care of the ship and its passengers needed to be set aside for a more urgent concern, the well-being of the ship itself. Here is where macrophase concerns in one context become microphase concerns in another context. Passenger concerns in the situation of the Titanic needed to give way to a macrophase decision about the ship itself."

"Now our concerns for the human community can only be fulfilled by a concern for the integrity of the natural world. The planet cannot support its human presence unless there is a reciprocal human support for the life systems of the planet. This more comprehensive perspective we might identify as macrophase ethics. This is something far beyond our ordinary ethical judgments involving individual actions, the actions of communities, or even of nations. We are presently concerned with ethical judgments on an entirely different order of magnitude. Indeed, the human community has never previously been forced to ethical judgments on this scale because we never before had the capacity for deleterious action with such consequences."

"As indicated by Brian Swimme in The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, humans, through our scientific insight and technological skills have become a macrophase power, something on the level of the glaciations or the forces that caused the great extinctions of the past. Yet we have only a microphase sense of responsibility or ethical judgment. We need to develop a completely different range of responsibility."

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