2018-03-31What if Humanity and Nature are like husband and wife?
But the relationship is troubled. Humanity is self-absorbed. It's all about us. News, history, movies, music, social media - our entire culture focuses on us.
In the meantime, Nature is supposed to take care of us, provide us with food, shelter, a nice climate and all we need to survive. We expect all of these benefits even as we neglect, deforest pave, pollute and poison on a grand scale.
Of course the wife must be lovely to look at - that's called landscaping. Stripping out native growth and replacing it with just the species we find pleasing.
Grow food for us, we say. Grow more and more. We want this field to produce this much of this crop. If weeds come along to help control the damage we have caused, we poison them.
And yes, everyone knows that trees are vital to the ecosystem, but we can't have them growing all over. Lawns improve property value, which is far more important to us than ecosystem health.
The husband seems to believe that the marriage is a competition. Humanity must struggle against Nature to survive. Only one of the parties can be the winner. In this relationship, nature is considered wild, unruly and dangerous. Humanity must tame and domesticate Her or She will destroy him.
As when people don't understand each other all sorts of misconceptions arise from projecting one's own fears upon the other.
I wonder if it's possible to repair the relationship we all share with Nature. Can we look outside ourselves and see what's really there? Can we pull ourselves away from the vast colorful drama of ourselves and look out the window for a moment?
One reason we don't is because it's Boring. Nature has been so subdued and comodified that we can't hardly see Her at all. Our interactions usually involve small acts of subjugation - mowing the yard or tending the garden - enforcing control in our own sphere of influence.
Every now and then, we go to a park or a 'nature center' to put in some time 'being around nature'. We drive there on paved surfaces that allow us to avoid any contact with the actual ground. Then we go home and mow the lawn, spray the weeds and take out the trash.
It's not easy to get past all the preconceptions and see Who is really there. Every now and then I have gotten a glimpse of Her. Once, looking at trees from my deck I noticed the leaves quivering and rippling in the breeze. The breeze seemed complicated. On parts of the tree all was still, yet a little further down the leaves shimmered.
The leaves seemed to be responding to the breeze. Just like the dendrites in our brains receiving information from neurotransmitters. The trees are the neurons and the earth is the brain, for of course the information from the breeze must be 'read' by the roots far underground.
Perhaps Nature emanates from the ground. The growing parts are expressions of what lies beneath. Instead of dead rock, that's where She lives. When we cover Her with pavement, She can no longer talk to the sky and the air. The delicate web of communication is broken.
I suspect that we will never solve humanity's problems until we heal our relationship with our significant other. That all of our modern mental, physical and social diseases are metaphors for this unhappy relationship.
Many of us want to help. But we are overwhelmed. How do we fix it? Mostly we go around feeling guilty for just being here. Should we legislate, start committees, join movements, contribute money, take bicycles to work, eat non-gmo, practice more mindfulness?
I don't think that will ever work.
The only way is to step outside and take a look. You are not looking at nature, but at the body of a Being. Like us but different. The way a husband and wife are different.
Nature is alive and aware. The plants and animals come from Her and She speaks to them. And us, too, if we notice. With all these delicate nerve endings, does She feel pain when sprayed with liquid poison? When asphalt coats Her skin? When the rich dirt she created over centuries is scraped off to make way for our cities?
Could a simple shift in perception start the process of change? After many years of marriage, can the husband finally notice that the wife is not a commodity but a lving breathing person, just as he is?