This interconnectedness is the human environment, a phrase intended to point toward the deep interconnection between the immediacy of our own lives, including the question of "How much is enough?," and both the social and natural worlds around us. This collection brings together essays from an international conference jointly sponsored by Ryukoku University, Kyoto, and the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley. The effects of our own decisions and actions on the human environment is examined from several different perspectives, all informed by Buddhist thought. The contributors are all simultaneously Buddhist scholars, practitioners, and activists - thus the collection is not simply a conversation between these differing perspectives, but rather demonstrates the integral unity of theory and practice for Buddhism.
In the West, humans tend to separate themselves from nature, valuing nature only as a means of meeting their own needs and happiness. This domination of nature often fosters human oppression instead of freedom and progress, as those who ignore abuses of nature tend to disregard human injustice as well. Peter S. Wenz argues that this oppression involves such destructive forces as sexism, ethnic strife, and political repression, including repression of the nuclear power industry's victims. Catastrophes like the Holocaust and the Gulf War are the result.
In contrast to the destructive "separate from nature" attitude, Wenz looks to various indigenous peoples as an example of societies where human beings revere nature for itself--societies where human beings flourish as individuals, in families, and in communities. Unlike societies dependent on commerce and industry, many indigenous peoples consider themselves part of a circle of life, reaping benefits far greater than the technological advances of the West. Wenz considers how to adopt the perspective of some indigenous cultures and how to make it work in our fast-food world. Additionally, he uses a trip to the World Uranium Hearings in Salzburg as a vehicle for understanding complex philosophical issues from consumerism to anthropocentrism.
In the series Ethics and Action, edited by Tom Regan.