If we choose to see the world as the source for whatever we need and a place to discard whatever we don’t want, we value it only in terms of what it can do for us.
If we choose to see the world as having its own subjectivity, we begin to see that it’s a bit like our parents: it had its own, quite enjoyable life before we came along.
When all goes well, young children rightly see their parents as the source of whatever they need. It never occurs to them where the food comes from or where the recycling or the dirty laundry go. The process of growing up is, in one sense, the process of first, learning the complexity of where things come from and where they go, and second, gradually assuming responsibility for provision and removal – first for oneself and, perhaps later, for others.
Hopefully, one day the child sees the parents as subjects in their own right, with their own lives and hopes and fears. The role of a parent ceases to be utilitarian. It becomes thou. The same is true for the world.
Object to subject. It to thou. How we see the world is how we learn to value it.
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