Are we really so separate?
Love the world.
To simplify and summarize, our brain has three primary motivational systems – Avoiding harms, Approaching rewards, and Attaching to “us” – that draw on many neural networks to accomplish their goals.
Lately, I’ve started to realize that a fourth fundamental human motivational system could be emerging as well.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors depended upon their habitats for food and shelter. Today, over 7 billion of us are pressing hard up against the limits of Lifeboat Earth. To survive and to flourish, cultural and perhaps biological evolution are calling us to love the world.
The world is near to hand in the food you eat, the air you breathe, and the weather and climate in which you spend your days. And then in widening circles, the world extends out to include complex webs of life and the physical characteristics of the land, the sea, and the sky.
When you love the world, you both appreciate it and care for it. Each of these actions makes you feel good, plus they help you preserve and improve everything you depend on for your health, livelihood, security, pleasure, and community.
During most of the last several million years, our human and hominid ancestors did not have much capacity for harming the world. Nor did they have much understanding of their effects on the whole planet.
But now, humanity has great power for good and ill. And we have inescapable knowledge (no matter how much some try to deny it) of what we are doing to our own home. As the earth heats up, as many species go extinct, and as resources such as fresh water decline, it is critically important that a fourth major motivation guide our thoughts, words, and above all, deeds:
Love the world.