Earth, Empathy, And Ecofeminism: A New Approach To Motivating Change

1219 words - 5 pages

We are living in a world that is affected more and more each day by the issue of global climate change. It has been scientifically proven that human action greatly contribute to this issue. The problem that arises from this knowledge is that the majority of people who are most impacted by climate change are not the largest contributors to this phenomenon. This paper will examine how Western society’s actions have led to the degradation of the earth and its climate, and have negatively impacted communities around the globe. Westerners must use the concept of empathy as a source of motivation to change their actions that contribute to climate change. Only by truly understanding the situation ...view middle of the document...

I will also examine a counter argument by social critic, David Brooks, about his view that empathy is not a good tool of social change.
I am approaching this project from my position as a part of the white, middle-class, western society that McFague focuses her theology on. My desire is to examine how I personally could gain a better relationship to the earth and its current crisis of climate change, while also encouraging other Westerners to reexamine the way that they relate to the earth. Therefore, within this paper, when using generalizations, such as people and humans, and pronouns such as we, I am speaking of and to fellow middle-class Westerners. This paper is also aimed towards Christians because beliefs and attitudes in our current Western civilization have been strongly influenced by traditional Christian thoughts and views, which have led to an acceptance for the domination of nature by humans by the creation of the hierarchical dualism of humans over nature. With this narrow audience in mind, I will not be able to fully cover all facets of climate change, but further on I will examine this complex problem more and explain how Westerners are disproportionately responsible for the effects of climate change. I will then bring in the empathy aspect of positive psychology and explore how the natural brain reaction of empathy can be used to motivate Westerners. Within the explanation of empathy, I will examine the science of this phenomenon, as well as, different categories of empathy. Although, empathy could also be extended to the earth and the way it has been degraded to change people’s actions, this paper will specifically focus on how Westerners can use empathy to relate to the marginalized groups affected by climate change, and through this empathy, the earth will be cared for when people change their actions to slow down climate change’s impacts on other communities.
After these explanations of ecofeminism and empathy, I will explore how the idea of using empathy to care for marginalized communities to slow down climate change can be strengthened when it is examined through the metaphor of the earth and all parts of it being the body of God; therefore, when we care about and empathize with other people and entities of earth, we are caring about and empathizing with God. The idea of Earth as God’s body comes from the main works of Sallie McFague, specifically her books, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology and A New Climate for Theology: God, The World, and Global Warming. Although McFague uses her model for other ecological problems, this paper will specifically focus on her ideas of using it to combat climate change.

Works Cited

Brooks, D. (2011, September 29). The Limits of Empathy. The New York Times. Retrieved from...

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