Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, was once asked about the future of our species.
“Are we going to make it?”
“Yes,” he answered, “if enough people do the inner work.”
Jung’s answer is providing the guidance for the Chaparral Institute’s new vision – Rediscovering our true, wild selves through Nature.
Reestablishing our intimate connection with the natural world can provide a path toward helping all of us create a more meaningful existence, which in turn will heal the wounds that cause so many to treat Nature (and each other) with malice. While the intellect is important in assembling facts and discussing shared ideas, it fails miserably when we seek to replace destructive behavior with understanding.
Why are we following Carl Jung’s lead? After spending fifteen years battling those who seek to destroy Nature, we have concluded that we need to begin focusing more attention on the real cause of the disease, the internal conflict that leads people to disregard the value of other living things, be it a manzanita, a coyote, or another person. It’s a disease that causes people to act in ways that are counter productive to the health of the planet, the constituents they are supposed to serve, and their own well-being. Let’s examine some examples from our past work on wildfire management:
The US Forest Service continually ignores suggested proactive strategies that have been shown to save lives and property from wildfire, saying that such efforts are “outside the scope” of their fire risk reduction projects. In the case of a recent habitat clearance project in the Lake Arrowhead area, the Forest Service even rejected their own research demonstrating that similar clearance projects in the same area failed to protect the 174 homes burned in the 2007 Grass Valley Fire. You can read our comment letter here.
The State of California. Although all the destructive fires over the past year have occurred in the coastal ranges of California, the governor’s and the state legislature’s response focused almost exclusively on expanding logging operations in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We told them they were not focusing on the right issues if they wanted to save lives and home, but the timber and biomass industries overwhelmed us. You can read our comment letter here.
In Santa Barbara County, a development committee that is charged with creating a community fire protection plan for Goleta Valley ridiculed the input of fire scientists. A leading committee member from the local fire safe council dismissed the proven effectiveness of fire hardening homes because he claimed such homes burned anyway in recent wildfires (our research indicates otherwise). The region’s fire chief called for a “big ass fuel break” where terrain and development make such a task impossible. You can read our comment letter here.
All the while, scientists keep publishing papers, environmental groups keep arguing to protect what little Nature is left, and decision makers keep ignoring it all.
The problem, as Jung suggested, is that we are arguing critical issues with the intellect while the actual decisions are being made by emotionally-laden personas, personas that are immune to facts. In other words, we are not arguing about what it’s about. The emotional policy suggestion made by the fire chief was not about a big ass fuel break any more than road rage is about the offending driver. Something is broken within us that keeps us from making sound decisions. Consequently, all the facts in the world mean nothing when it comes to convincing someone to change emotionally-based decisions or opinions.
Our solution? We need to start fixing what’s inside.
For more on how to move forward, we strongly recommend a wonderful resource, The Academy of Ideas. Start with the Carl Jung series.