Gems of Neohumanism
By Eric Jacobson
In the process of applying the philosophy of Neohumanism to the education of a new generation, we discover that while the general public is likely unaware of the philosophy, certain facets of it are easily appreciated and strike a resonant chord of agreement. This series is exploring some of these as they were discovered in an ethnically, religiously, and demographically diverse setting—New York. The first gem, Pseudo-Culture vs. True Human Culture appeared last issue.
Gem #2: Ecology
Ecology is the branch of biology dealing with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment, including other organisms. Human beings around the world have increasingly embraced the practices recommended by ecologists in recent years. Neohumanists can not only ride this powerful wave of increased awareness about our relationship with the world around us, they can add momentum to it!
The original catalyst for the popularity of the ecological movement was fear—fear that we humans were going to destroy the very ecosystem we depend upon to live. In spite of mounting evidence which came in the form of losses in air, water, and soil quality, and extinction of other species, the majority of the world’s population long remained ecologically ignorant in the policies of their governments, the procedures of their businesses, and practices of their daily lives. One can argue that this ignorance remains—barely checked by the ecology movement. Then the movement gained momentum with the immediacy of global warming and its threat to our lives.
The ecology movement, however flawed, is a force to be reckoned with, creating change at every level of society. But as long as the ecology movement remains grounded in the selfish preservation of human life, its progress will be slow and unreliable. Today ordinary people want to save the world for their children. But today’s children want to go beyond their parents’ dreams, and save the world for everyone and everything.
The motivation of self-preservation cannot lead us to true ecology, and cannot be a renewable self-sustaining source for the depth of inspiration, research, and action that is needed. Societies that consider themselves ecologically aware are still creating poisons away from their homeland as a by-product of manufacturing, burying contaminates underground, shipping trash to other communities, and destroying species “non-essential” to humans. Even if humanism were practiced to perfection, and the ecological movement guided us away from anything which harmed anyone anywhere, it still would fail in the long run because humanity is not above and apart from the rest of creation.
This is where the Neohumanist movement steps in. By defining humans as integrally connected to, even one with the rest of the living and non-living environment, it raises ecology to a new level. In fact, this concept is so profound that a new term had to be coined for it, “deep ecology.” That is, an ecology that is endlessly renewable and has a self-sustaining source of inspiration. Neohumanism not only embraces deep ecology, it provides the means to experience this new definition of what a human being is through meditation and yoga practice. In simple terms, “We must act to preserve nature for the welfare of humanity,” must be replaced by “We must act to preserve nature because it is us.”
Neohumanist schools are therefore at the forefront of this global ecological wave, providing new energy and ideas, leading the way to better education and practice. We are not just recycling plastic bottles but caring for the local flora and fauna. We are not just reducing our electric use, but creating our own clean energy. We are not just trying to avoid the dumping of contaminated water, we are collecting and purifying rainwater.
Due to our sublime, all-inclusive philosophy, we cannot help but to create new ecological curriculum and curriculum in action for our students. And while the public at large may not know our philosophy by name, they can get a glimpse of it through our actions. Ecological actions strike a chord with the parents of the world—that makes it a Gem of Neohumanism.
Each of the Gems of Neohumanism is so powerful as to be capable of being the main focus behind creating a school and then attracting people to it! I once heard somebody say that Neohumanist education was just a new combination of old methods. To that I confidently say, “Nonsense!” It is not even a particular method! And that, my friends, is the whole point of this series—to share with our readers the awareness that Neohumanism comes endowed with a purse of precious jewels, each of which could easily stand on its own as the foundation for a school. Now imagine if we used all those jewels in each of our schools!
In the next issue we will share Gem #3 with you. Upcoming gems will include: Awakened Conscience, Applied Learning. Food, Health, Life as a Mission, Not a method, Wholistic approach, Multiple Intelligences.