In 1976 the economist Fritz Schumacher spoke at Findhorn in Northern Scotland in an address as relevant today as it was then. Historically, he noted, we are at the end of three distinct eras—first a Descartian informed world view which valued what was known through the senses above spiritual knowledge and encouraged an accumulation of things as a path to happiness; second a sociological system shaped by the industrial revolution’s division of labor which led to the degradation of the human being; and third an economic system driven by a belief in infinite resources and quick technological fixes, resulting in a ravaged eco-system.
As these old eras draw to a close, bankrupt, he went on, we need to regain a traditional understanding of what is good, true, and beautiful and so inform our actions to build a new era that acknowledges the wholeness of life. It is not a single-issue crisis that we face—not just an energy crisis, not just a nuclear crisis, not just an ecological crisis or sociological or political or cultural—our whole way of life is at stake and solutions must be developed and implemented simultaneously at many levels. He calls on the audience to first work to foster a new world view in themselves, diagnose what can be done, see if others are already engaged in that rebuilding work and support them, and then act themselves, if even in a small way.
Exhibiting his characteristic charm and humor, a historic breadth of thinking, the integrity of his own example, a belief in his audience and the capacity of the human spirit to seek solutions and bring about change—this Findhorn address shows Schumacher at his best.