Letter to the editor: ‘Nurturant Parent’ model better for care of the planet

George Lakoff points out that in the West there are two models of morality that can be represented as family metaphors. The Strict Father Model assumes that God gave dominion over nature to man “to steward wisely.” The Nurturant Parent Model sees nature as a Mother who provides for us.
Perhaps there is a God keeping score as the Strict Father Model suggests. The jury is out on that for many, including me. Unlike the Strict Father Model, the Nurturant Parent Model does not require that there be a God in order to make sense of the motivations and the nature of relationships within it.
Conservatives often embrace the Strict Father Model or at least want to be seen as doing so. Politicians in power for the moment — like Trump, Pence, Pruitt, Ryan, and McConnell for example — would have us believe they are God-fearing members of the Strict Father Model. I suspect they are either delusional or faking it or both. It appears that they are much more interested in their own bottom lines than the well-being of the country they are supposed to be serving in a strict fatherly fashion.
More to the point, even if the boys in power are not faking it, I believe that the Strict Father Model may have been co-opted, if not originally concocted, to give license to the unconscionable behavior that is enslaving people and destroying Mother Earth.
It appears that the most promising way out of the mess in which we find ourselves is to embrace the Nurturant Parent Model or something akin to it. In my little world that means “Group B Forestry,” which is rooted first in a deep ecological conscience as opposed to an economic one.
And what if there is not a score-keeping God? Can true morality be found “independent of obligation or sanction” to or by a higher power? And without a Strict Father morality what is the motivation for morally based action that will lead to well-being and balance on Mother Earth?
Jean-Marie Guyau concluded that the required morality was, is and will be generated by “action” and the “power of life” herself. Guyau wrote: “No hand directs us, no eye looks out for us. The rudder has long since been broken — or rather, there never was one; it has to be made. That is a great task, and it is our task.”
The good news is that, if at the end of the day there actually is a benevolent God and a day of reckoning, the Nurturant Parent Model as described by Lakoff ought to put us in good stead for getting through the heavenly gates.
If at the end of our days we find there is not another room to enter, we’ll be able to take that last breath on Mother Earth in peace and in joy before heading off to the compost heap of the cosmos.
David Brynn

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