Self Discipline and Environmental Discipline: A Step towards Responsibility
The Power to harness the World is an Ability that comes from Within, but to effectively Harness the World, one must first Harness the Self – Augustus Chukwu.
Keywords; Discipline , Self , Environment , Responsibility, Leadership.
Throughout the process of human evolution, man has increasingly gained access and control over his environment [nature], placing him in a God-like position. This progress stems from the masterpiece of man’s rational ingenuity that avails him the opportunity to investigate and explore the world, discovering its organisation and intricacies and unraveling the puzzles behind natural occurrences, this has availed man a considerable power over nature.
For over 70,000 years Homo Sapiens have been to develop at a rapid pace that have out-paced nature’s gradual unfolding of itself. However an unrestrained exercise of this power over nature portends catastrophic consequences for us all and over nature itself. Hence as rational and cautious beings – a gift nature has vouchsafed us – we have it therefore as a duty to rein in our activities and on our environment so as to preserve our world and our own very existence that is inextricably entwined with it.
The talk about the respect, value and preservation of environment is one that cannot be discussed about in isolation, it is also a talk about self preservation. This is because the environment representing the cosmos which deals with the outer is inseparably bound with the inner which is the self. And so a harm done to one is also a harm done to the other. In this context it is not out of place to say therefore that the talk of environmental respect, value and preservation is the same as self respect, value and preservation.
The respect and value of a thing so as to ensure its preservation requires a good understanding that guarantees the development of a healthy mentality and attitudes towards it, that shows an appreciable understanding of the thing it self. Having this sort of understanding puts one in the position of responsibility a position one can only effectively and judiciously handle Its requirements with the virtue of discipline. Discipline therefore becomes an underlying pre-requisite virtue that ensures self and environmental preservation.
The biophysical environment represents the universe in its reduced form as manifested in the physical nature surrounding us and investigated/studied by natural sciences and is interwoven metaphysically and substantially with the self. It follows that to take responsibility of our existence and that of nature, discipline as the pre-requisite virtue should begin from the self which is the inner substance to enable us take effective charge of the outer substance which is the cosmos manifested in [nature/environment].
The call to this responsibility is a call to genuine leadership. A leadership with two-fold implications: A leadership of the self and a leadership of our environment. A proper understanding and responsibility of the self influences our understanding and attitude towards our environment. It is the intention of this write-up therefore to buttress the functional link between the individual[self] and his world, to show how a better understanding and care of oneself would lead to an inevitable respect, value and preservation of one`s environment pointing out more importantly the role of the virtue of discipline in training one to take up responsibility of oneself and the environment and most importantly it concludes that this responsibility is the basis of true leadership.
EXPOSITION OF CONCEPTS
Discipline; The ability to control oneself even in difficult situations. It is the ability to develop a strength of character, the ability to take charge of one`s will and volitive acts. From this perspective one can see that the object of discipline is the will and actions (which I refer to as a physical response to the will) it is important equally to know that the will does not operate in isolation, it functions concurrently with reason. When the mind or intellect receives information it processes/discerns it before the will comes in to choose and decide. If the data received by the mind is the raw material upon which we act then it behooves on us to train our mental refinery or mental processing system which includes the mind/intellect and the will to properly analyze incoming data to produce the best and qualitative info-act. The final stage during data processing in our mental processing system[mps] is the stage of the will. The will has to muster the power to choose between options provided by the processor, this is where education as a of process of developing the faculties for better and effective functioning comes in. When the faculties including the will are better developed the stand a good chance of making a proper decision. When this whole process is effective and efficient in a person such that a person’s reputation syncs with his character and he acts maturely then can such a person can be deemed disciplined.
The next in line of consideration is the concept of self as a person or thing referred. A self can be understood as the complete individuality of a thing or a person that depicts its character, nature and attributes. In philosophy it is referred to as the ego – that which knows, remember, desires, suffers that is subjective. A subjective self as contrasted by the object that is without.
The self is also seen as a uniting principle as manifested in the soul underlying all subjective experience.
This is understood to be the totality of all surroundings of a living organism, including natural forces and other living things which provide conditions for development and growth as well as danger and damage. In order to narrow down our discussion to perspective the focus of our discourse shall be centered on our natural environment as studied by the natural sciences and this we could also refer to as the ecosystem and so it is understood to be the natural biophysical unit comprising all biotic factors co-functioning with the abiotic factors which have very great influence over the survival, development and evolution of the species within that environmental domain. However from a broader perspective the totality of the universe/cosmos can be viewed as the cosmic-environment which the biophysical/natural environment is but a partially manifested part of it.
By extension environment can also be viewed as locale, ,environ, milieu, ambience, setting etc.
The state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or having control over someone. It the state of being accountable or to blame for something.
Discipline is the mother of responsibility.
Understanding the Self and the Environment: Following the definition of the self as the uniting underlying principle or substance and the environment as the host of factors-biotic and abiotic that surround us and ensure the survival, development and evolution of domiciliary species and in a broader context cosmic-environment. it pertinent to explain the two terms and show the relationship shared by them. I explained previously that we are in a comic-environment known as this universe. This could be understood to be the macrocosm within this larger system is the microcosm. The microcosm is but a small unit of the macrocosm. However, there is an inextricable bound between the macrocosm and microcosm, this is because they both are made up of the same substantial material. Let us take a brief look at the universe (macrocosm).
Inside the makeup of the universe you have the galaxies and planets and other body of constellations, earth is one the planets within it are biotic and abiotic (living and non-living)entities. In the living we have humans who are individual persons (selfs or selves).
The universe is made up of ordinary bryonic matter known as atoms which account for 4.9% to 5% of the universe, there is the dark matter which accounts for the 25% to 26.8% and also the dark energy that accounts for 68.3% to 70% of the universe. The atoms are made up of electrons which are comprised of protons and neutrons which are further composed of quarks, leptons, neutrinos etc. Almost everything in the universe is made up of these things, as a matter of fact we have trillions of neutrinos passing across us all the time. This goes to show that everything including us humans are nothing but a system of complex intricate composition of several particles. For the biologists what we call feelings and emotions are nothing but the interplay of chemical reactions within our bodies which can be further reduced in explanation to the inter-actions that go on between these particles that we are composed of. Most particles have their negatives (apart from one or two that have their positive and negatives combined) which react as would when opposite elements meet.
What we call self, personal identity or soul cannot be seen or touched they are nothing but the feelings, emotions, desires and ideas that go on within us. What happens in the case of humans is that when these atomic particles combined with the electromagnetic energies and nuclear forces form to produce both matter that we call body and feelings, emotions and ideas etc. that go on within us all of these are brought together by a uniting principle (substance) which one can call the soul or self.
Now just as you have substance and accidents that are eternally dependent on each other so the soul or self cannot exist without its accidents (the body with all its attendant properties) upon which they accidents supervene least the cannot exist. All of these are ignited or powered by energy, a metaphysical force that is spiritual yet physically manifested – this is responsible for all movements in things.
Now having, explained that everything in the cosmic-environment are made up of the same material substance, elements, particles and powered by a single force-energy. The same is for the biophysical environment which is another level in the cosmic-environment where we as microcosms find ourselves, permit me to call this envirocosm as it is part of the microcosm this part of the universe is not left out as it is still made up of the same atomic particles and joined by the same electromagnetic and nuclear forces. It is true that as we are unified by a principle into individuals (selfs) other agents within the envirocosm are equally unified by their respective principles, as a matter of fact the same envirocosm or biophysical environment is made up of several individuals unified by principles or forces that define their existence. However, when viewed from a wider perspective we are all one and the same with the biophysical environment for we are formed by the same substantial material and are powered by the same energy only that we are individuated into different parts for achieving different purposes.
Environmental Pollution: Since the advent of the industrial revolution human activity on the environment tremendously increased, this has resulted to a huge damage on the ecosystem that it threatens its very existence including ours.
Environmental pollution simply refers to the contamination of the other envirocosmic agents which include air, water, and land caused harmful products. The major sourced of pollution are green house fossils, chemicals released during industrial activities, exhaust from gasoline powered vehicles like automobiles, refuse, sewage and garbage disposed of cities and pesticides used in agriculture.
There has been strong and persistent calls by bodies, institutions and governments for us to rein in harmful activities on the environment so that we can preserve our ecosystem for us and for the next generation to come. These calls have been inspired by conferences, talks, write-ups, researches, recommendations, agreements, deals, laws and restrictions. However, it appears that these measures are unproductive. Some have not been sincerely true to the agreements that been made while some have totally reneged on the deals and agreements. The latest being the Paris Agreement which saw majority of the countries like US, China, Germany, who are responsible for the largest carbon emissions (these carbon emissions are responsible for global warming) signing a deal to cut down their carbon emissions and effectively curtail manufacturing and production excesses.
With the rapid advancements in science, technology, and industrialisation even in developing countries one cannot help but be sceptical about the true commitment of companies, institutions, and individuals to this cause.
One major factor that has greatly contributed to the apparent lack of sincere commitment to this cause even in the face of imminent dangers it poses to our immediate environment (in forms of environmental hazards, outbreaks of virulent diseases and most recently the phenomenon of global warming) is the lack of proper understanding of ourselves and the biophysical environment this has given rise to a lack of discipline-informed actions both in our intrinsic character (in respect to the self) and our extrinsic character (in respect to the environment). To respect, value and preserve the biophysical environment we must learn the virtue of discipline.
Saving the Environment in the Self:
It is a truism that one who is not self-disciplined would not value, respect and genuinely secure the preservation of the self and when one does not respect and value the self then one cannot respect, or preserve the environment as one cannot give what one does not have. When the Self is disciplined enough to rein in the prodigious passions, obnoxious and misdirected tendencies then one can in turn apply the same discipline to one’s usage and dealings with the environment. However to achieve this education is pivotal.
Education provides the needed training for the development of all the faculties of a man, when these faculties are properly developed to some extent then one can take full charge of the operations of the Self. Education provides a proper understanding of the self and the environment and the relationship existing between both. It is the cultivation of the mind, spirit or self. Once the self is properly cultivated then it can freely unite with nature and become one with the cosmic-environment, in this case the self no longer sees any marked difference between it and the environment, the self understands that I am nature and nature is me. This type of understanding, is liberating, it frees the individual from egocentric bondage. With this knowledge the individual understands that an injury done to the environment is an injustice done to the self. You came from nature and to nature you shall return. The supercilious domineering stance that we assume over the environment is a function of ignorance, extreme anthropocentricism, it is an implicit rejection of the self for the active rejection and destruction of the environment is the destruction of our own environment (nature) is the destruction of our own being and existence. The more we embrace our own environment (nature) the more freedom we acquire (both mentality and bodily), and the more successful we become, the more successful we become the more peace we witness and the more fulfilled we become. Your environment is you.
Leadership and Responsibility
Leadership, ordinarily understood is the capacity to influence. True leadership becomes the capacity to positively influence for the sake of achieving a better future.
How then does the question of leadership feature in this discourse? It features in the sense that as intelligent “selfs” we are the most endowed known creatures in the universe. We possess effective and efficient managerial skills that enable us to understand, explore, manage and lead other creatures for the purpose of maintaining our immediate environment. These are qualities which, as far as we can tell, have not been manifested by other creatures. This capacity that we possess has given us so much authority and leverage over the world such that in our bid to creatively harness the world’s resources to better our lives we equally have caused it unimaginable damage which has catastrophic implications for both the environment and us.
However if we are to assume our true leadership role in the universe we have therefore the duty to heed the call to responsible leadership. The call to responsible leadership is a call to a disciplined lifestyle which is the evidence of responsibility. To be a true leader you have to develop self discipline, when one is self disciplined then one will be environmentally – conscious and disciplined. The one who is able to achieve this feat is the responsible one and the true leader.
By: Augustus Chukwu U.