The change of mind I am talking about involves not just a change of knowledge, but also a change of attitude toward our essential ignorance, a change in our bearing in the face of mystery. The principle of ecology, if we will take it to heart, should keep us aware that our lives depend on other lives and upon processes and energies in an interlocking system that, though we can destroy it, we can neither fully understand nor fully control. And our great dangerousness is that, locked in our selfish and myopic economies, we have been willing to change or destroy far beyond our power to understand.
Under the rule of the free market ideology, we have gone through two decades of an energy crisis without an effective energy policy. Because of an easy and thoughtless reliance on imported oil, we have no adequate policy for the conservation of gasoline and other petroleum products. We have no adequate policy for the development or use of other, less harmful forms of energy. We have no adequate system of public transportation.
Akin to the idea that time is money is the concept, less spoken but as commonly assumed, that we may be adequately represented by money. The giving of money has thus become our characteristic virtue. But to give is not to do. The money is given in lieu of action, thought, care, time.
Peaceableness toward enemies is an idea that will, of course, continue to be denounced as impractical. It has been too little tried by individuals, much less by nations. It will not readily or easily serve those who are greedy for power. It cannot be effectively used for bad ends. It could not be used as the basis of an empire. It does not afford opportunities for profit. It involves danger to practitioners. It requires sacrifice. And yet it seems to me that it is practical, for it offers the only escape from the logic of retribution. It is the only way by which we can cease to look to war for peace. ... Peaceableness is not passive. It is the ability to act to resolve conflict without violence. If it is not a practical and practicable method, it is nothing. As a practicable method, it reduces helplessness in the face of conflict. In the face of conflict, the peaceable person may find several solutions, the violent person only one.
As industrial technology advances and enlarges, and in the process assumes greater social, economic, and political force, it carries people away from where they belong by history, culture, deeds, association and affection.
History leaves no doubt that among of the most regrettable crimes committed by human beings have been committed by those human beings who thought of themselves as civilized. What, we must ask, does our civilization possess that is worth defending? One thing worth defending, I suggest, is the imperative to imagine the lives of beings who are not ourselves and are not like ourselves: animals, plants, gods, spirits, people of other countries, other races, people of the other sex, places and enemies.