Humanity, over our short and violent history, has traveled a long way down the wrong path. We desperately need to find our way back home before we are forever lost. To make this shift, all who are alive today must learn to live in harmony with the Earth. The book “Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth” carries urgently needed messages for everyone on the planet. I know this because I have witnessed how damaging human impact is on natural ecosystem function and how little time we have left to change this.
For the first fifteen years of my career as a photojournalist I covered the rise of China, the collapse of the Soviet Communism, the industrial giants of the world, the wars and struggle. Following this, for the next fifteen years, as an environmental and ecological researcher I have documented the great rivers, mountains, forests, grasslands, wetlands, deserts and cities on 6 continents. When comparing the beauty, the importance and the value of natural systems, to the institutions and physical structures built by human beings, there is simply no comparison.
On the vast grasslands of the Eastern Steppe in Mongolia, carefully located upwind of a huge herd of gazelles with my son, Silvan, I crouched in a depression in the earth with grass tucked into the rim of my hat. We were waiting to film the herd moving toward us when my son pointed to a lone wolf loping along to the right of us. Seeing this animal free in the wild made my heart race and took my breath away. In Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Forest, drawn to the joyful sounds of an unseen stream, I threaded my way through thick epiphytic vines to find water bubbling out from the side of the mountain. Surrounding this hidden spring, elegant wild orchids exuded an intoxicating scent while dozens of colorful butterflies flew around me. I sat in awe, every sense overloaded.
In China, India, Guyana, Ecuador, Borneo, Norway, Russia, Oregon, in fact in everyone of the more than 80 countries that I have documented (and I firmly believe everywhere on Earth I haven’t been) it is possible to feel the sun on your cheek, the wind in your hair, to hear the sound of various creatures and see delicate leaves unfold and stretch to be nurtured by the sun. What grace it is to be alive and what a miracle to be conscious of it.
Yet collectively in human society and economy, far from being conscious of the profound beauty that we are part of, we are driving other species to extinction. The shiny gadgets we valued so highly yesterday are piled high, leaking poisons into the landfills today. Toxic industrial emissions fill the sky. Poisonous agricultural chemicals flow into the streams, rivers
Sharing the thoughts of many who are clearly aware, this book helps us see what is true and what is false. When we know the sacredness of all life, we realize that life is vastly more valuable than the material things with which we are currently enthralled. Correctly valuing life points to the solution to our problems, because when humanity values life and nature higher than things, then it becomes impossible to degrade or to pollute. When we correctly value life it makes it possible to see, that our brothers and our sisters suffering in poverty, are only poor because of the way human society has defined wealth.
Humanity is in the process of evolving to a higher level of consciousness. Our time has come. It is our choice and it is our responsibility to act with courage and wisdom. “Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth” is helping to lead the transition by amplifying the Earth’s voice that we so badly need to hear.