“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” ― Aldo Leopold
Our work includes providing both an environmental ethics framework and the tools for the engagement of the public and professionals with Nature habitats and wildlife.
With these tools, we aim at redirecting our human acts towards preserving or restoring a healthy ecological world, while fostering an enduring attitude of ecological respect and belonging.
We wrap our methodology into what we call the EwA Eco-Ethics Framework. It’s made of 2 main blocks: An attitude and a process (with its set of tools including guides and etiquettes), which output is a more ethical ecological way of thinking & living.
“Badly informed people may cause small ecological disasters, making false judgments of a factual character. Today more than ever, it is one of our duties to keep informed; the better informed we are, the better our basis for predicting consequences.” — Arne Naess
Being ecological is not something that one does only when s/he has time. It’s not circumstantial. It’s a mindset.
Being ecological comes with an ‘attitude’ and the discipline that goes with it. Once we understand that, it makes it very easy to shift our behavior to a behavior that is more ‘natural’ and productive.
This attitude for us is rooted in 3 skills that we nurture diligently:
▷ Empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is also wanting to do something about it. Empathy should translate into actions.
▷ Humility — the quality or the state of not thinking that we are better than other people. The ability to recognize that we don’t know everything… Which is a fact: we truly don’t.
▷ Knowledge — an Evidence-based type of knowledge rooted in the domains of science in general including, ecology, sociology, ethology and conservation science. Knowledge informs us and helps us understand the state of the world and the implications of our actions onto that world.
Once we have these 3 qualities in mind, and once we make them our own, things become simpler somehow… and much more interesting too.
One might disregard this attitude as being unimportant. But thinking of some opposite traits: indifference, apathy, selfishness, arrogance, and ignorance might shift our view a little and make us realize how prevalent or present the negatives are in our society and how they characterize us. Maybe even the scale shifted recently towards the latter as illustrated in the wave of populism and extremism in our modern World.
A healthy attitude is naturally dynamic because as fallible humans we can forget humility when we are threatened, and we can dismiss empathy when we fear. Knowledge itself is dynamic. We only know what we know, and we should keep in mind that what was acceptable today might not be tomorrow. This means that this attitude requires ‘discipline’ –the will to remain as open, humble and emphatic as we can, never taking anything for granted, seeking new knowledge, making sure our old knowledge still has value in the present and correct it when necessary or when we’re mistaken.
Great examples of how dynamic our human world is (and our ethics by extension) are the fairly recent abolition of slavery, the emancipation of women in the modern world. Slaves and women with no rights were morally right and vehemently defended. Another great ongoing change is the new understanding and acceptance of animal sentience, which leads for instance into public outcries and the shaming of some less than ethical practices (e.g., cetaceans captivity and entertainment industry, the questioning of captivity breeding and the keeping of large mammals in zoos, etc.). Having gained a more flexible viewpoint does not mean that the progression is linear and will never regress. An example of regression is the threat of racial, sexual (and even gender) discrimination coming back in countries that were seen previously as defenders of more humane societies.
Yes, the 3 traits of Empathy, Humility, and Knowledge may lack individually and in combination, but there are within us, or we would have never abolished slaveries or gave voting rights to women. So, it is easy for us to believe that we can bring these qualities to the forefront of our lives in a more persisting manner.
“The pain of discipline is nothing like the pain of disappointment” ― Justin Langer
If each time that we go in a park, a sanctuary, a forest, we practice the 3 activities of exploring (researching), preparing for the experience, and engaging when in the moment and even after coming back, then that attitude will solidify into an enduring one, leading to an ecological behavior that can be shared as well and spread even further.
At a high level, these 3 activities are:
▷ Exploring is making sure we are making ethical choices when deciding the type of recreation, vacation, volunteering or action we plan to have, so as to not endorse without knowing bad institutions, bad practices (our own included), etc. For instance relying on non-experts rating about institutions of animals in captivity is what drove Trip Advisor to finally (and thankfully) correct its course. It halted ticket sales to certain cruel wildlife attractions that are unfortunately still very much appreciated by the average ignorant travelers who end up endorsing criminal institutions. Exploring is also about knowing what to expect.
▷ Preparing is ensuring that we will be behaving in ways that minimize negative impacts. We believe in living by example, and this comes with knowledge and understanding. so this step of the process is also about educating ourselves diligently.
▷ Engaging is respecting and putting into practice what we’ve learned when preparing. It’s connecting with the people on site, being flexible and learning from those people as well as remaining ‘alert’ for spotting poor rules of conduct and challenge those.
“Sincere practice makes the impossible possible.” ― Dada Vaswani
Having an attitude, a process, and the tools to realize the process (guides and etiquettes); and then cycling through the attitude and the process repeatedly is what makes a difference at the end. It does for us: it makes us much more alert, mindful, honest and engaged. It gives us back the assurance that together we can have a positive meaningful impact to the world.
It is said that one just needs 21 days to change or get rid of bad habits. Maybe becoming ecologically minded and living it follows the same 21 cycles rule ⥁…