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The Sacred Balance: A Vision for Life on Earth

by David Suzuki with Amanda McConnell

Only a few decades ago, human beings had their first look at Earth from space. Cities, skyscrapers, and other Guinness-Book-of-World-Records manmade wonders disappeared into a swirl of greens and blues shrouded in a white cape of weather and atmosphere.

That view from space has changed the way we think about the Earth and the part we play in it more radically than did the Copernican revolution in the 16th century. It buried forever the notion that people are masters of their environment. Since then, environmentalists, writers, and scientists have been trying to write a new explanation of humanity’s role in the world.

David Suzuki’s new book, The Sacred Balance, attempts to stitch together this new world view by looking at the balances that occur in the human body, the natural world, and in our social and spiritual lives. To do this he borrows heavily from Lovelock’s Gaia principle, which argues that the Earth itself is a living organism, delicately balanced and self-regulated in the same way the human body is.

The Sacred Balance is vintage Suzuki: he argues that our actions are throwing the Earth’s life support systems off balance and possibly endangering all life forms; that to save ourselves and the planet we must change our profligate ways and restore the sacred balance. But Suzuki delivers this message in a backhanded and disorganized way. He branches out from his biologist and naturalist roots, making pronouncements about pop psychology (children who aren’t loved grow up maladjusted), and about human spirituality and love in the natural world. He even goes so far as to suggest that the act of a mud dauber feeding its young might be an act of “love.”

Suzuki tries to beef up his argument with texts and graphics culled from everywhere from the Bible to Romantic poets to Nobel laureates. There are some real gems, but they steal his thunder: they say what Suzuki is trying to say more effectively and succinctly.

Suzuki is most persuasive when writing about the natural world, but in his zeal to impart his wonder at nature’s interconnections, he sometimes goes too far, venturing into the murky waters of sentimentality and anthropomorphism.


Reviewer: Sasha Chapman

Publisher: Greystone Books/David Suzuki Foundation


Price: $28.95

Page Count: 253 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 1-55054-548-5

Released: Oct.

Issue Date: 1997-11

Categories: Science, Technology & Environment