Ecological problems the world is facing now, their causes and possible solutions to them have recently become the point of wide discussions among scientists and people who care about their future. Ozone holes, global warming, greenhouse effect and polluted air are the results of people’s activities and improper utilization of natural resources. Unfavorable environmental situation is a subject of a number of writers with Tom Berry being the one of those who dedicated his book “The Great Work: Our Way into the Future” to the causes and possible ways of tackling the ecological problems the planet Earth is currently experiencing. Some readers regard this book as another piece of writing restating the same problems and harping on them with trite arguments, whereas others state that the ideas Tom Berry presents in his book are vital, reasonable, and persuasive. Therefore, it is necessary to discuss five of the main ideas Tom Berry represents in his “The Great Work: Our Way into the Future” and provide the explanation of these ideas as viewed from the perspective of the modern reader.
One of the main ideas presented in the book is ecological destruction of our planet. These days the nature is suffering from the damage the humans have inflicted and continue to inflict to various life forms: “Yet a pervasive awareness of the damage we have done begins to sweep over the land” (Berry 47). Stating this, Tom Berry insists that now that earth predicament became so grave only urgent drastic measures are likely to help in improving the situation.
Secondly, the author of the book specifies possible causes which resulted in such an awful destruction. Among these, he names such traits of human character as loss of sensitivity and greediness: “The natural world becomes vulnerable to assault by humans” (Berry 24). Of course, stating this he does not mean that namely demonstration of these flaws of character resulted in devastation of the Earth. The biggest part here is assigned to the activities in which these traits can be displayed.
Another idea which can be traced in Tom Berry’s book is the role of “four of the fundamental establishments that control the human realm: governments, corporations, universities, and religions-the political, economic, intellectual, and religious establishments” (Berry 4) in transition to the future which would be more ecologically sustainable. The author believes that these establishments can exercise control over people by means of not only educating, guiding, and facilitating the understanding of the ecological problems but by impelling people to act rather than to be mere observers of how the planet is dying.
Furthermore, Tom Berry brings about the idea of possible assistance of different kinds of wisdom in returning the planet its initial look or at least to some extent remedying the situation. To these wisdoms he refers “the wisdom of indigenous peoples, the wisdom of women, the wisdom of the traditions” (Berry 193) and the wisdom of science. He considers the wisdom to be a source of guidance which contributes to human’s understanding the problem and finding possible solutions to it.
And the final idea Tom Berry expresses in his book is the necessity of reestablishment of people’s connection with nature. The author insists that as long as such a connection exists and as long as people respect nature, they can count on its support,” for the inner life of the human depends immediately on the outer world of nature” (Berry 55). Correspondently, if the nature is damaged or ruined, a human will never be able to find peace and to become well-balanced.
Having discovered five of the main ideas represented in “The Great Work: Our Way into the Future”, every reader is likely to have his or her own understanding of these ideas. Thus, discussing the idea of today’s ecological destruction of the planet, one will agree with the fact that devastation of the Earth has reached its peak. The environmental problems the modern world is facing now are striking and this concerns not only ozone wholes or polluted air. The matter is in the Earth’s reaction to the damage inflicted by people which results in numerous natural disasters which, as recent events prove, cannot be predicted and prevented. Every year earth-quakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis take thousands of human lives with humans being unable to withstand the nature. Reflecting the second idea, it should be mentioned that, indeed, human greediness and obsession with obtaining more profits resulted in such a devastation of natural resources. Most of enterprises do not follow the basic environmental laws saving money on waste recycling and illegally dumping waste products. It cannot be denied that humanity has reached an unbelievable progress in industrial sphere but this “sense of progress is being used as an excuse for imposing awesome destruction on the planet for the purpose of monetary profit” (Berry 63). Certain attention should also be paid to the role of governments, universities, religions and corporations in transition to a better future, since each of them can contribute greatly to fighting with ecological problems. For instance, governments could enforce the existing environmental laws and introduce more severe fines for illegal dumping of wastes; universities, in their turn, could overtake the work of informing the population in face of students about the current ecological problems and consequences they may entail; the contribution of corporations could lie in introduction and implementing of new environmental policies, whereas religions could widely preach the necessity of protecting the environment relying on the principles of morality and the fact that people owe their lives to the nature. What’s more, all possible kinds of wisdom will help to work out a many-sided approach to the existing problem with indigenous peoples’ respect to their roots, women’s inborn maternal instinct, ingenuity of classical traditions, and versatility of science. When these are taken as a whole and learned from, remedying the damage inflicted by people will be possible. And eventually, in support of Tom Berry’s idea about the reestablishment of connection with nature, it is worth reminding that nature understands people like nobody else for it has created them. Nature comprises keys to all the riddles and answers to all the questions; what is left is to know where to look for the keys. By reestablishing connection with nature people will be able to find the concealed secrets and to embrace the unembraceable, which would give them a possibility to progress without damaging the environment.
Taking into consideration everything mentioned above, it can be stated that Tom Berry’s book “The Great Work: Our Way into the Future” makes it possible to realize all the seriousness of the damage inflicted to nature by people. After specifying five major ideas of the book and discussing them from the perspective of an independent reader, it becomes clear that what is written in a book is not only informative and educational but inducing to urgent actions aimed at salvation of nature and improving environmental situation in the world.
Tom Berry. The Great Work: Our Way into the Future. New York: Bell Tower, 1999.