The main arguments of my lecture were how humans are failing themselves and devastating earth’s biosphere, at least in part, because they became uncooperative with two key ecological inheritances: raising the young within the human evolved developmental niche and, as part of this, facilitating the development of a deep attachment to, knowledge of and respect for their local landscape of other-than-human entities. Without humanity’s return to these cooperative evolutionary roots, the species will be doomed, along with many other-than-human beings. The now-widespread mental illness of ‘human supremacism’ that results from these missing pieces has spread around the planet and is destroying ecological integrity. The ‘Sacred Money and Markets’ story (SMM) that David Korten criticizes and I briefly discuss is a symptom of these missing pieces of human inheritance. We must return to a Sacred Life and Living Earth story with lifestyles to match.
Most of human history and prehistory was lived in economic poverty but with social and ecological wealth, both of which are diminishing as commodification takes over most everything. Human moral wealth has also deteriorated. Because humans are biosocially, dynamically, and epigenetically shaped, early experience is key for developing one’s moral capital. When early experience is species-atypical, meaning that it falls outside the evolved developmental niche (EDN), which is often the case in modern societies, biopsychosocial moral development is undermined, shifting one’s nature and worldview to self-protectionism. Individuals develop into self-regarding shadows of their potential selves, exhibiting threat-reactive moral mindsets that promote unjust treatment of other humans and nonhumans. Humanity’s moral wealth can be re-cultivated by taking up what indigenous people all over the world know: that a good life, a virtuous life, is a one that is led by a well-cultivated heart, embodied in action that includes partnership with nonhumans. Moral educators can help students to revamp their capacities with self-calming skills, the development of social pleasure and communal ecological imagination.