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Project NatureConnect
Article: Disconnection


Disconnection from Nature in Action

How to reduce our troubles by learning to use an organic process that helps us transform discontents into constructive relationships.

From The Web of Life Imperative, M.J. Cohen


"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."
- John Burroughs

On April 18, 1972, Karen, a high school junior who was quitting school, said to her principal: "Dr. Miler, you can't teach me what I want to know because what I want to know is how not to be like you." Karen's words come to mind more and more as I watch well intentioned folks that I love hurt themselves, each other and Earth. Their best thinking about how to solve our runaway problems has proven not to be as thoughtful as it needs to be.

Karen, after many attempts to "adjust," had decided to drop out of school. She was an excellent student and Dr. Miler pleaded with her to remain. He pledged that he would teach her anything she wanted to know. That's when she told him he did not have the ability to do that. She explained that the effects of his thinking and relationships depressed her. They showed that neither he nor the faculty knew what she wanted to know, no less how to teach it. That knowledge was unavailable to the public in 1972. It is, however, available today through the Organic Psychology of a natural system thinking process.

Although they played their role well in school, Karen's faculty was a cross section of society, then and today. For example, despite the warning labels, 30% of them smoked cigarettes. Because they protected others from the smoke by providing themselves with a smoking area, they were within their legal rights. Smoking was not, and is not, illegal. Karen felt that if cigarettes became illegal, smoking and its adverse effects would not stop. In her social studies paper she wrote "It would be like deer hunting. In many states more deer are poached illegally than are legally killed during hunting season." In that paper Karen also said "We can't make sense of how our society educates and governs us because it is not sensible."

Karen discovered what most people tell me they know. With respect to helping us sustain happy, responsible lives, the education we receive, in and out of school, is often no more effective than the warning label on a pack of cigarettes. Karen was different than many students. In counseling she learned something extra. She discovered the integrity and value of her subconscious thinking, she started to register her 53 natural senses. She found that she wanted and deserved more than what school provided. She began to realize that the world and its people were at risk. Her paper said "We are in jeopardy. We don't just need information, we need an effective process. I want to learn how to build responsible relationships. That is not happening in this school" she wrote, "To teach it or learn it, you must live it. I have tried, in vain, to make that happen here."

At a meeting, the faculty pleaded with Karen to stay in school, for she was an excellent student. "I'm afraid to stay," Karen said. "The abusiveness in the world scares me." She choked, "We are on the brink of nuclear war. And the natural environment is deteriorating so quickly there may not be a world for me to live in." Her tears flowed freely. "There is nothing abnormal with me feeling depressed at times. The hurt I feel is real. It comes from knowing and watching people being killed or bird species decline. I am tired of putting Band-Aids on that hurt in counseling and thinking there is something wrong with me personally. That hurt will only disappear as abusiveness disappears, as sensitivity, peace and birds reappear. That is not happening here. "This school is contaminated, it's a subculture, a breeding ground for our problems."

Mrs. Cook tried to speak. "Let me finish please," Karen said, and continued: "The school has just bulldozed the natural area on the building's west side to build still another lawn. That area was not only a nesting and feeding habitat for birds. It was a womb for all forms of life, a place that I loved, where I could find peace at lunch time and after school. Compared to being in class, or even in counseling, that place made sense. It was beautiful, it felt right. I could go there depressed about my life and safely feel all the beauty and life that flourished there. In just a few minutes, I would feel much better. I refuse to be touched by the thinking here that has been bulldozed into such stupidity as to bulldoze that natural area." she said.

Dr. Miler interrupted, "Karen, there was no choice. That was part of a legal contract from years ago. We had to fulfill that contract or be sued. And some students smoke marijuana in that area."

"I don't smoke marijuana" said Karen, "I feel sad for those that do. I feel even sadder that the law says that I must spend 1/2 of my waking life indoors in school. This environment is bulldozing paradise to make still another lawn. Dr. Miler, you once told me that we learn more from the world around us than we do from books and lectures. I simply refuse to trash paradise or learn to do it. I refuse to let you rub off on me any further. What's wrong with that? It makes sense to me." She seemed stronger for her statement and its intensity.

"Earth and its people are at risk," Karen continued, "Every year in this country, five thousand square miles of nature are being bulldozed into oblivion. How can you possibly teach us to deal with that massacre when you are engaged in it? What are you thinking? What sense is there for me to sit in Social Studies class to discover that our nuclear generating plants are dangerous yet their total electrical output equals the energy this country uses just to run hair dryers? That makes no sense. What do we learn here that helps us stop using hair dryers? To be accepted here, I feel pressured to use one, not to decease. Where is the sense in that? In Biology we learn that a decade ago Rachel Carson showed the danger in using pesticides and chemicals . Since then we've introduced thousands of new chemicals every year into the environment. What are you thinking when you use these chemicals on our lawns here? I don't want to learn to think like that. What kind of a world is school teaching my mind to build?" she asked passionately.

Dr. Miler calmly advised Karen that the school did the best it could. If she left, she would be truant and there would be consequences. She would not be able to attend college. Karen replied: "I don't care. I choose to learn elsewhere. It's too stupid here. Here, society sentences me to live in an irresponsible mold, a change resistant, indoor learning environment that assaults the natural foundations of life. This environment is so boring, controlled and stifling that most students are drugged out or into something that is outlandish, self-destructive or socially harmful. I'm spending close to 18,000 hours of my most impressionable, developmental years in this nature isolated school closet. That's like growing up in another culture, a destructive one, at that."

Mrs. Cook, the English teacher, objected, "I, and other faculty members, have taught you repeatedly that these things don't make sense." "Not really," Karen retorted, "You merely say these things don't make sense. What you really teach me by forcing me to be in this setting is that I must adopt to being part of a runaway stupidity. You don't teach me how to successfully deal with it. Wake up, Mrs. Cook! You don't know how to stop it so how are you going to teach that? Am I supposed to just accept your belief that the communists and minorities cause our problems? At church we have a conflict as to whether it is right to subdue the Earth as the Bible says. Isn't there a separation between Church and State? You are not compelled here to subdue the Earth, so why do you do it and teach it?"

"This has nothing to do with religion" said Mrs. Cook. "Maybe not to you." Karen replied, "I have friends for whom that woodland was a cathedral. Think about it, weren't the lives of our greatest spiritual leaders shaped by profound experiences in nature? "

Smiling, Mr. Langely, the social studies teacher said: "Karen, cheer up. You are going to be the first woman President of the United States." Wiping her tears, Karen stammered "Oh sure, the first president with a prison record. State laws say I will go to prison if I am truant. That sucks! I don't care, I'll take my chances. Go ahead, turn me in. The law has me jailed here right now anyhow. The big advantage to being in this jail is that I can walk out and find a better way to learn. That's what I'm going to do," she stated confidently.

Karen's words bring to mind a study done by a sociologist in Maine. It shows that the students' level of moral in a high school is the same as the prisoners' level of moral in a state penitentiary. My research shows that this does not happen if you teach people organic psychology techniques that enable their thinking to tap into the sensory strings of the web of life. As I show below, today, Karen would not want to leave school if the natural systems thinking process was part of the curriculum.

The following semester, Karen enrolled in the outdoor school I founded. So did Mr. Langely, as a university graduate student. The program lets contact with nature and nature-centered people teach students of any age how to be more personally, environmentally and socially responsible. In the process, they learn the academics they need to make it happen


Was Karen foolish to leave her school? She finished her education through courses that taught her how to reconnect her thinking with the web of life. Today, those courses and degree programs are available to any interested person through distance learning, guided, home study activities, workshops, internships and degree programs through the internet. People like Mr. Langely facilitate some of them. Anybody can learn the process at home by simply doing the sensory nature reconnecting activities that manifest it. Karen went on to become a successful environmental lawyer, professor and advocate for sustaining responsible relationships.

Each of us sincerely desires to live responsibly in a healthy, safe social and natural environment. But, we still learn how to think today as Karen was taught to think 26 years ago. For example, today, as then, we pulverize the area around our home and school into a lawn. We do this, even though we know that lawns demand polluting chemicals and that they replace vital wildlife habitat. But, our ingrained, nature-separated language story floods our conscious thinking. That story says: "Lawns are instinctive" "Lawns are not illegal" "We are within our rights to have lawns." "We are cleaning up the area." "A lawn beautifies this place." "It improves where I live." "It's part of the American dream." "It is against the town ordinance not to have a lawn." "A lawn increases my property value." "I'll feel out of place if my place looks different than the neighborhood." "It makes it easier to sell my home." "It gives me a sense of pride. " "I've always had a lawn." "A natural area breeds dangerous things." "It's the decent thing to do" "I'll feel run down when my place looks run down." "It gives me something to do" "It provides a safe way for me to be outdoors." "Lawns are our culture and history."

Under the above nature disconnecting barrage of stories, and without being nurtured, our inherent love for natural areas dissolves. Lawns, golf courses, and many of our other questionable choices, flourish because our nature disconnected stories, not the natural fulfillment of our inner nature emotions, carve our destiny.

We bond to our stories. I know and enjoy the people that made the above statements about lawns. They are wonderful friends socially, but with respect to the natural world they are sensory zombies. About 85% of their connection to nature as been amputated from their consciousness. They enjoy the natural world through the applauded, but warped, symbols, behavior and language of a culture disassociated from nature. It provides them with money. They suffer from our runaway problems because the natural integrity of their lives and sensitivities has been as disintegrated as the natural areas that once thrived where their lawns now exist. Their consciousness is boxed into the limits of our society's nature disconnected stories (short and fun, it is worth reading this link).

To read a student's short reaction to Karen's predicament select here




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