Dear Envigogika readers,
As is our custom, we are introducing this new, fresh issue (2013/VII/3) in a broader context that reinforces the direction of our common endeavours. In this time of autumn, we will touch upon the frequently discussed issue of elites and their status in contemporary performance-oriented society and the regularly recurring objection that contemporary society neither needs nor produces any elites . The term ‘intellectual elite’ always refers to a circle of people with an outlook, well-read, capable of thinking in contexts; all these abilities are formed in a state of freedom: not only freedom of opinion and expression thereof, but also the freedom of thinking itself. This freedom requires an open timeframe when thinking is taken for granted: it can flow freely without colliding with its own or external “productive” requirements. Time for reading, deliberation or even contemplation is ever scarcer and is connected with scepticism that such behaviour could “lead to something”.
In this respect, environmental education, too, has been waging a losing battle: it is trying defiantly to wrest this free time out of a system that devours our children at an early age, and defend it against the constant requirement to form new knowledge. But what is knowledge? Is it a correctly answered item in a questionnaire, a test result? Is it really directly related to (personal) success in our “knowledge society”? True knowledge should be not only acquired but also digested, put to the test in a clash with reality, defended in discussion… All of that has progressively degenerated into the mere ability to use it to make a required product, whether it is a published text, a presentation, or just a completed education unit that can be demonstrated in a CV. It seems ever more absurd that one might learn “for nothing”, while reading, strolling through the countryside and holding discussions with friends; and education in its complicated present-day form provides no safety room at all for this slow, sometimes painful process. Nevertheless, it is just such security that is necessary for not only the conception but also the successful growth and maturing of real ideas.
We too want to constantly point out that a landscape with its horizons, for instance, which shows no signs as far as possible of having been “raped” in the name of profit, is as important for the smooth flow of thoughts as other circumstances of spiritual growth. Care for this landscape and all its inhabitants as well as inanimate “components” is thus, to some extent, practical care for the spiritual dimension of our existence. This should be done in unity, that is, support for thinking as such, the wise management of time set aside for it, and practical care for its accompanying phenomena or requisite environment, i.e.care for nature, which remains the blood of our thoughts. Without this practical consideration, wandering through the countryside would easily become a mere pastime, good for relaxation but not for cultivating a young spirit, which is most efficiently achieved through diligent care for things and beings that are tangible, beautiful and alive.
This openness towards nature and only then towards human society with its spiritual possessions and culture, is as usual mainly demonstrated in our non-reviewed articles. We thus see, for example, how the roles of people who have revived the Dotek environmental centre (Hana and Jiří Kulich) are shown in a new light as they open the centre, and how they have taken upon themselves the task of reminding us of our past with regard to its message for future generations, including the establishment of a sustainable form of living. Jiří Nečas talks about the Christian perspective on environmental issues: he shows how an authentic humane and responsible relationship to nature is culturally based. On a similar note, Peter Sabo and Ľudmila Sabová start a polemic with Zdeňka Petáková’s article in the second-to-last issue of Envigogika: they define themselves in opposition to the obstinate “denier of culture”. Professor Šmajs, and like Jiří Nečas, they see the way forward in following up on its best traditions. We publish the text complete with the reviews, which bring new perspectives to the issue and references to literature. We also touch lightly upon the artistic representation of nature: Hana Kolářová’s review of a new book on land art describes how “art in the landscape” works. Finally, Jiří Olšovský tries to say how one can enter into a relationship with nature even today, in an age dominated by technology.
Another section contains articles dealing with the role of science and politics in establishing a quality, long-term sustainable life. The paper by František Kožíšek and Petr Pumann is a witty and erudite description of the pitfalls encountered by a scientist who wants to faithfully share his results with the public. The authors describe how the essence of their message has progressively been “lost in translation” within brief media news items and primarily within their headlines; they speculate how this type of distortion could be avoided without science retreating into itself. This issue also focuses on the possibilities for evaluating EE, this time with a highly comprehensive and insightful perspective on environmental literacy written by Petr Daniš, who reports on (not only) the PISA research planned for 2015. In their presentation of a method for efficiently analysing the management of protected areas, Peter Repka and Milada Švecová highlight the need for awareness raising about nature protection and the importance of involving various societal groups. Jana Laciná and Vlastimil Kostkan have been attempting to present recent findings in nature and social sciences related to the environment to the general public, and they report on their efforts here. The mosaic is complemented with a look back at the recent past and the outlook for the future: Martin Říha recapitulates the state of the Czech Republic’s environment since 1990; Václav Mezřický reflects upon the 2013 parliamentary election, chiefly the inability of contemporary politics to respond to the key challenges of our time.
A bit of sad news to conclude: our colleague and friend Martin Braniš, a member of the Envigogika editorial board, has died. We bid him farewell with a reflection on his possible (implicit) “message”, and at this point we also say good-bye to you, our readers (with the hope that it’s not the last time). Within the context of the reflections contained in this new issue, we wish you a successful and sustainable journey through your actual lives and not only their substitutes – successful CVs that can be showcased for others to admire.
Wishing you all the best on behalf of the Envigogika team,
Jana and Jiří Dlouhý, 20 October 2013
 The text is largely inspired by an interview with the sociologist Ivo Možný in the newspaper Lidové noviny dated 19 October 2013.