Ethical Aspects

Ethics begins fundamentally when one has determined to take rational findings into account. Everyone knows that smoking is dangerous, yet many still smoke.

Even environmental politicians and nature conservation workers take short flights from the Cologne-Bonn airport although there are available comfortable railways. Whosoever decides to base his own behavior according to ecological perspectives makes a considerable commitment in that moment of choice - as long as that person's determination holds. This means that for that person, for example, his actions are no longer determined solely by his own needs but the needs of the entire ecosystem are taken into account. The use of nature remains understood but keeps itself within reasonable bounds. The use becomes taboo when the bounds exceed reasonable exploitation or bring irretrievable destruction. An individual's orientation is easily hindered if his interests become unfortunately identical to those of the society.

Scientific insight alone then is disabled as a long-term basis and motivation for ethical behavior. We live and make decisions as much from the soul as from reason.

The story could begin differently as it did for Lynn White in 1926 in Ceylon (Krolzik and Knopfel, 1986): Singhalese were building a new road under British rule. In the planning, they consistently omitted several sites. There were snake nests. The local people were not afraid of the animals but held the opinion that the animals had a right to live there as long as they wanted. As Buddhists, they were convinced that souls were reincarnated in snakes. The British Christians yielded to the people, as the building activity would certainly have dislodged the animals. The English did not value the snakes, but the Buddhists certainly did.

Animal conservation without environmental laws and "Red Lists" only holds meaning for those who find value from other sources. Two thousand years ago, the Rabbi from Nazareth referred to the Samaritans, and even barely today do we find reason to look over the fence of our Western tradition to find a few fleeting impressions of how others relate to nature. Perhaps this will help in providing motivation to study our own behavior. Finally, the impulse for an "ecological ecumenism" may result.

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