Spiritual values can be helpful in achieving climate goals, and new research from the United States is focusing on how to harness specific cultural shifts in spirituality to drive climate action.
In-depth interviews conducted by Dr. Jessica Eise of the University of Texas at San Antonio establish a sense of being connected to the natural world in those who consider themselves spiritual, but not necessarily religious. A common thread running through the interviews, all of which were conducted with people living in two towns in the American Midwest, was a shared priority given to nature and the environment, no matter how different their backgrounds and systems might be. of individual beliefs.
With 27% of American adults now identifying as spiritual in addition to a specific religious identity, Eise believes exploring these dimensions can help advance climate action. And since he’s so far removed from the 1940s and 1950s, when only 2-3% of Americans had no religious affiliation (mostly Christian), he also feels it’s important to understand the collective social bias that puts the emphasis on specific values despite individual spirituality. .
For example, surprisingly diverse people have chosen similar words to describe these spiritual values. “If there is a God, I must live my life with love, compassion, understanding, tolerancesaid one of the 28 participants. “And if there is no God, I have to live my life with love, compassion, tolerance. So it doesn’t matter”.
The strong connection with the land and spiritual values
The strong connection to nature, the Earth and other people is described in Eise’s scientific paper as “widespread emphasis and certainty in his belief in the interdependence of living things“. The work, done with Meghana Rawat of Utah Valley University, was published this month in the journal Public Relations Review .
More than 85% of respondents said that spiritual beliefs or values influence their lives and behaviors, their view of the world, and the political candidates and positions they support. All participants said that spirituality shapes their identity.
“My work, my relationships with others, my interactions with bees, animals, plants, my garden. My garden… is like my churchsaid one participant. “This is my place of worship”.
A growing population of spiritual but not necessarily religious people can be a key demographic in terms of driving climate action. “Communications and PR professionals have struggled to motivate enough action around climate change and the environment, and this may be a space with the potential to promote and encourage change and action. .says the newspaper.
At the same time, many of these people have reported feeling largely ignored or misunderstood by the media and others who view them as outsiders to the discourse.
Links between spirituality and ecology
“The rich connections between spirituality and environmentalism have existed for millennia and still exist in many cultures and groups around the world.Eise said. “But mainstream Western narratives have generally, and quite harshly, separated spirituality, ethics, and morality from “scientific” topics like climate change and environmentalism.”.
Further research is needed, he said, to better understand the pattern of spiritual values in different geographic regions and cultures. You will expand your own data with a study of spirituality, ethics and attitudes to climate change.
“We need to reframe our messages to the “everyone” problem we can solve and have reason to hope for.Eise said. “Spiritual and ethical messages that emphasize connection to each other and to the environment have a lot of potential in this regard..