Mental Pollution

Speech by Ligia Alves dos Santos Semrau on the Open Space event in Hannover on August 8th, 2000
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"I have a thesis, and I want to tell you about it: we actually don't have environmental pollution. We have only mental pollution.

  • What do I mean with mental pollution?

In my opinion corruption is the worst thing that comes out of mental pollution.

This problem is not only above our heads, it is also under our feet. Corruption is a global problem, which makes a better world impossible.

An other example of mental pollution is arrogance. Arrogance is a barrier that stops people to understand each other. The arrogance of science is to believe that we can explain everything.

Consumerism is also a kind of mental pollution. That is one of the big causes of environmental degradation.

Another Kind and very important type of mental pollution is individualism: People thinking only about their selves without considering the other.

  • Why can I say that we don't have environmental pollution?

First, a problem who had already a solution, it is no more a problem. We have already technical solutions for fast almost all environmental damages we have done.

Second, the environmental pollution we see is not the problem, the problem is in our mind. It's the same as a headache: the headache is the consequence, the symptom of something else which causes it. It is the same with the environment, our way to be a part of our world is disturbed: We don't feel ourselves as a part of the nature or society; we don't see the earth as our home. That is the cause of our headache.

Not only our environment is suffering from the consequences of our mental contamination. Not only our macro-economic model of development is guilty for our economic crisis. Not only the politics is guilty for the corruption.

The science is also guilty. Our notion of reality is fragmented, our knowledge is fragmented, but a whole knowledge is like water: it cannot be fragmented, only if it is frozen.

Also, we need to rethink ourselves, rethink the economics, rethink the society and also rethink the science. We have a lot to think about, don't we?

The science doesn't believe what it cannot explain, but we should not try to explain our feelings. The knowledge should not block our feelings! We women have a strong intuition and we should use it more.

Once I heard a very interesting sentence, which woke me up (Is everybody awake?): there is nothing more dangerous than intelligence without love. It is the same with science and knowledge. Because this knowledge could be used wrong. Love can live without knowledge but knowledge should not exist without love.

  • But, can we solve the problem of mental pollution?

Well, its such a big problem like a dragon with seven heads, difficult to defeat, but we can, we must do something. It is not enough to do something about environmental pollution, we must do something about it's causes, mental pollution, and urgently! It must be a work with professional ethic and the citizen awareness from the people.

  • For example, against corruption, we should try to see it clear, don't accept it like a normal thing, protesting and denouncing it.

    Also artists and scientists could be engaged in social and environmental causes, we need our whole society to build a better world.

    We should realise that politics can be transparent, we should try to do it clean, politics should be everybody's business.

  • Against arrogance we should think about the famous sentence from Shakespeare: there is more mysteries between heaven and earth than our vain philosophy could ever suppose. There is another sentence, I forgot from who, which says: mediocre people think they are intelligent, but who has intelligence apologise not to be more intelligent.

  • Against consumerism we have a lot of things to do, it is actually a difficult question, we need a big growth in our awareness about this problem.
  • Against individualism we should try to be in solidarity with others. Mainly the communities should be in solidarity with other communities, get together, to fight for their rights and satisfy their needs. I believe we can do something.

For example the Agenda 21 is a good basis for action because it involves the social, environmental and economic aspects of our life, to have a common basis, our act should be based on its principles, to discuss our problems and find out our own solutions, in a context from a local Agenda.

We should try to go together with other specialists and link with other organisations, for example, NGOs, government, financing institutions, to have more power to participate on the decision making process. One plus one is always more than two and three times three is much more than nine."


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