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The overarching goal behind the book was purely and simply to make people think--to offer a different perspective upon some topics and ask the reader to consider the validity of these alternate viewpoints and how their application might change some of the concerns of our current world.
Some of the specific issues addressed by Ishmael and his student, then, become narrower reasons for the writing of the book. Included among these topics are the endangered planet Earth and its atmosphere, the threat to continued existence of many plant and animal species, the increasing difficulty of sustaining human life, and the conflicts between different groups of humans that demonstrate their inability to listen and learn from each other and from their shared history.
Ishmael contends that there are basic and unavoidable laws of nature and life which govern all existence on Earth; that humanity has tried to circumvent or ignore these laws; that the current endangered status of many forms of life is the result of this arrogant attitude on the part of humanity; and that people must learn and adopt different attitudes and ways of living in order for all life on Earth to survive.
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