May 13, 2011


Eric Hoffer was an unschooled, original thinker who was frowned upon by academia despite his literary acclaim. His most recognized book, “The True Believer,” explains how mass movements arise and, given events in the Middle East, it has gained a new relevance. But for me one of his most interesting arguments held that western civilization gained primacy over other cultures because it saw nature as a resource to be used and conquered instead of a life source with which we should harmonize. 


Hoffer was prominent in the 1950s and I wonder what he would make of our relationship to the earth now. Would he admit we have paid a price for believing ourselves the earth’s master? How did he come by this notion in the first place, I wonder. Certainly, recent events in Japan should remind us that in dealing with natural forces we are rarely in charge. Even the societies we build for our benefit have proven inadequate. If the economic meltdown in of the past two years hasn’t illustrated that fact, consider the recent government follies exposed by WikiLeaks (WikiLeaks/ Dan De Luce, AFT. 4/25/11).

The human race seldom thrives when it acts as an aggressor against nature or against itself. We seem to do best when we create art, struggle for original thoughts and show kindness to one another. Does anyone else see a pattern here?