grimminge. On Sunday 10 July, Dutch emeritus professor Matthijs Schouten was present at the Libbrecht Society and at De Helix in Geraardsbergen. He advocated a radical overhaul of our relationship with nature. ‘We have already exhausted that precious resource too much. We have to learn to deal with it differently.’
Matthijs Schouten first made a thorough analysis of how this destructive attitude of nature as a ‘slave’ is ingrained in our Western culture. ‘That goes back to the very beginning, when there was ‘in the beginning’ was nothing and in seven days the creation was created,” he clarified. ‘It also has to do with our interpretation of that creation story. In that story, for example, we see the seventh day as a day of rest. But it really isn’t: after a week of hard work, that day offered (and offers) a chance to see everything that went before.’
In the 1960s, when Schouten completed his training as a biologist, there was an impetus for emancipation for nature. ‘The intrinsic value of nature seemed to have been reinvented. There was finally renewed interest in its mystical value. For a moment it seemed as if we would treat nature differently. Unfortunately, that ecolution was not continued and humanity continued to fail.’
This was also the case in the Netherlands: sound and substantiated plans were drawn up in the 1960s to deal with natural values differently. But unfortunately they ended up in the wastepaper basket, according to Schouten. Nature thus became an exclusivity. ‘We have not embraced nature, but enclosed it. We made them exclusive’said the professor emeritus.
‘Usually people realize that we are part of nature and that we have to take care of it. But,’ says Schouten, ‘thinking we are part of nature is not enough’. In addition to a social contract, we also need a contract with nature, in which we weigh up our actions against nature, believes the Dutchman. He argues for a posthumanism.
In order to achieve this, it is best to use our imagination. Finally, the emeritus professor invited the audience to look at current crises from their imagination. ‘And then it may turn out that a lot is possible,’ he decided, ‘because of course we’re connected. As humans, we are not separate from nature: we are part of it. We inter-are with the natural world around us. It is high time that we not only realize this, but also start to feel and experience it again.’
For more information: https://kro-ncrv.nl/persberichten/de-boeddhistische-blik-de-natuurlijke-mens