No matter how much good we may want to do in the world, it is futile and dangerous to ground humanistic or religious actions on a personal foundation that fails to comprehend the true nature of reality. Unless the fundamental impetus for positive change arises from a coherent map of reality, it will ultimately cause harm and fail.
The beginning of all reality is this: all that exists is of one, coherent, integrated and intelligible whole. We are, along with everything else, an integral part of the whole. Reality does not exist by necessity; there could just as easily be nothing at all. Reality is intentional, not incidental, or accidental. Reality is not a random event. This is a coherent map of reality. This is a reasonable foundation from which to pursue good works.
Goodness, truth, and beauty are at the heart of reality; they are not values we impose on a blank canvas. The way out of many, if not all, of our self-imposed problems is to open our hearts and minds to a knowledge and wisdom greater than our own. What we need is already present at the heart of reality, but we have to see it clearly. Then we can begin the work of caring for creation.
Until we know the true nature of who and what we are caring for, even our best efforts will be misdirected and cause more harm than good. We would do well to develop “an unspeakable reverence for the holiness of created things.” * Good intentions and lack of knowledge are a recipe for disaster.
“God is mirrored in all things like sunlight in clean water: but if I try to drink the light that is in the water, I only shatter the reflection.” – Thomas Merton*