Way back in 1806 the English poet William Wordsworth observed, in part:
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
Let me tell you, Bill, nothing has changed! Two centuries later, the world is still too much with us. Although we now have a fancy term for our malady–anthropocentrism–still, by whatever name, the problem persists: We are stuck on ourselves, self-centered, speciesist. We remain anthropocentric:
Even though distancing ourselves from nature robs us of refreshment, insight, relationship, wisdom, strength, fun;
Even though our tight focus on ourselves probably deepens and perpetuates our mental illnesses;
Even though prioritizing our interests above those of other species risks maming the very ecosystems that sustain us;
Even though, for believers, “hating” nature offends God’s desire that we care for His Creation;
Even so, we continue to kill, ravage, pollute, and–worst of all–ignore or even despise the natural world, our “Mother Nature”.
Why do we do this? I am not fully prepared to say why. This is a complex issue. And besides, I am myself part of the problem. But at least I recognize what the problem is, and I think Tef Theory can serve somewhat as an antidote: It advises us to love the Whole, which includes nature. “Love Thy Tef!” TT prioritizes nature and nature’s interests. It explicitly, or at least implicitly, calls for respecting and reverencing the greater good of nature, while trimming our own arrogance and greed.
And I can offer one little trick, a useful trick. Read through this Blog Post again, and wherever you see the words “we” and “us” tack onto them the word “humans”. For example:
“The world is too much with us humans; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we humans lay waste our powers;
Little we humans see in Nature that is ours;
We humans have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
Then watch or listen to your favorite news media and add “humans” to each “we” and “us” you encounter there. Immediately our narrow focus on our own species becomes stark, even enbarassing. It’s all us, us, us. Of course, some will complain that this view “values fish more than people”. But, really, are we humans anywhere near parity? Is everyone in town sporting Earth First T-shirts? Hardly!
Yeah, Bill, you were right, the world IS too much with us. We have a lot of work to do, still. But by simply labeling ourselves as the humans we are, maybe we can make a little progress. I hope so.
Finally, keep this in mind: The best kind of anthropocentrism is ecocentrism.
May Harmony Prevail! Love Thy Tef!