Restorative relationships

It is an old wag among environmentalists that humans have become disconnected from nature. The culprits for this conundrum are various. If it is not our addiction to technological enticements then it is our life in big cities which alienate us from our “earthen elements.” The presumed result of this disconnection is that we do not respect the land anymore and turn a blind eye to the environmental consequences of our collective acts of consumption and pollution. Various bits of evidence are produced to prove this point – mostly anecdotal – such as the claim that many city-dwellers, when asked where their food comes from, will respond blankly, “from a grocery store.” What is the curative for this ailment? Surprisingly, it is not that we should send urbanites out to the factory farms, county-sized feed lots, or flavor factories in New Jersey, which actually put most of the food on the shelves of neighborhood markets. It is instead usually suggested that we should send people to wilderness areas, that we should become more connected with nature in the raw, as it were. E. O. Wilson’s “biophilia” hypothesis is a good case in point. Defending a sociobiological account of why humans are innately attracted to living things, Wilson suggests that this connection is best realized in the residual attachment of humans to wild nature. This grounds a claim that the most important task at hand is to focus on “the central questions of human origins in the wild environment” (Wilson 1992, 351). It is probably unfair to suggest that Wilson thinks that we should all go to the wilderness in order to be better connected with nature, and implicitly, to then..
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