(Repost of a post on Across the Abyss, April 27, 2014* with minimal editing and updating)
The disconnect that is often propagated between the human world and the natural world, and the dichotomy created by it, has slowly lead to an understanding that pulls us away from some very important truths, creating a cycle of misunderstanding that pulls us further and further from a healthy and beneficial coexistence with the world we live in.
This can be described as the urbanization of the human mind, the movement away from a realization that we are part of the world around us to the idea of human habitat as an urban bastion of non-nature in a sea of natural world, and the growth of cities as the expanding of the walls and driving back that which is beyond.
While there is truth in this image, it tends to manifest in two different mental processes, both of which miss the true nature of both the reality and of the issues created.
The first mental process is that of the natural world as the aggressor. This mental process grew in the transition from hunter/gatherer nomadic society to an agricultural fixed location society. It is less present among nomadic cultures that aren’t fixed in location. The image is of humans behind walls or fences or hedges, with all of the natural world besieging. This is a position of fear of the unknown beyond the boundaries. There is truth in it, but it creates a us and them idea of the world. It seals the humans within the walls, with limited ability to identify with what is beyond. It also can and has lead to an image of the natural world as something to be conquered, manifest destiny if you will. The idea that if humans don’t subjugate or suppress the natural world, that the natural world will do so to humans. Kill or be killed.
The second mental process is that of the human world as the aggressor. This mental process grew out of the developments of the last century, of seeing the negative impact of human actions of the natural world and determining humans should thereby be seen as a virus or disease that threatens the natural world. This leads, and has lead, to the idea that the only way to protect the natural world is to exterminate the human threat. This is usually not taken to the full extreme, but the idea creates the idea that the goal is to limit human activities as much as possible, preserve the remaining wild areas by completely preventing human presence. Quarantining the humans to prevent their spread. Containment.
Both of these mental processes, while being rooted in concerns and truths that are very real, miss the truth that humans are part of the natural world, that human habitat damaging that of others is only different in scale from certain ants that consume everything in their path, of large amounts of predators decimating prey populations, of large populations of herbivores decimating plant populations.
The goal of subjugation of nature hurts not just what is perceived as the natural world, but the human world as well, as we depend on that which isn’t human for food, for oxygen, for climate regulation, for clean water, housing, for many things we need for survival, to make human habitat possible.
And humans are a part of the environment as much as any other species. The elimination of humans will have the same results as the elimination of a predator or grazing species. This is well seen in changes between fire management policies. A change from a policy to put out all fires to a let it burn approach results in danger not just to human habitat but to many other habitats, as the prevention of fire allows fuel to build up, and a sudden stop in prevention results in worse and wider spread fires that would naturally occur. Likewise, fire prevention if too aggressive prevent the processes that would naturally occur. For instance, fire reduces pine beetle populations, lowering the amount of dead pine timber, which are the cause of large spread fire, and stimulates the cones to replace what was burned. Fire also stimulates root activity in aspens, causing growth in size and density of aspen groves which are habitat to many types of species. Any change in policy, or in human behavior, if not gradual with a smooth transition, will have unexpected ramifications that might not be beneficial.
The solution to the problems that arise in human vs nature interactions is not to fight against nature or against humans, but to understand that there is no separation. Human is part of nature, not a separate thing. In this understanding, solutions arise that can facilitate human needs while taking into account the impact on the other parts of nature. Only then can a better balance and better approach be possible.
This, however, isn’t a matter of writing up a plan, or defining policy, law, or procedures. The issue is one of mental process, of paradigm and world view. Such changes can’t be regulated into manifestation. Mental process changes, paradigm shifts, and changes to world view aren’t a matter of law but of practice, not a matter of top down enforcement and dictation, but of individual changes spreading.
A different type of disease than was discussed above, a fire of inspiration and passion igniting change from individual to group, from group to community, from community to region, and outward.
What is needed is not laws and regulations, restrictions and policy. These things are not bad, especially as an intermediate step to treat the symptoms. But they won’t create change.
Change is a whirlwind, chaos, it is prophecy and inspiration, the meed of poetry, heady and potent. Law is my its nature a thing of stasis and control, order, establishment.
Change begins not in law but in hearts and minds. Change is spoken. Change is acted. Change is a thing done in the day to day life, impacting that spot you live in, that soil you are planted in. Change is shared with those you are in contacted with, with community, with clan, with tribe.
Light the fire of inspiration and change in your own heart and mind, plant the seed in the fertile soil of yourself. Let it spread. Let the fire light in others by contact, let the root reach out and grow into trees in the soil of those around you.
Let those that are lit by your fire do the same, and those lit by theirs. Change the world where you are, and the ripples and waves across the pond that is our world will be seen in all places.
Embody change, embody spirit, embody the unity of all things, the interconnected web that is all living things. Look for what you can do where you are, and do it. Don’t hesitate, don’t be afraid.
Be a flame burning bright. Let your flame spread.
Consider this well, and think on it.