What is needed, if we are to find a path to sustainability, is a way to reflect and harmonize our actions with nature’s schemes, her time line and the cycles of the seasons. There is a deep and abiding capacity for abundance in virtually every ecotone on Earth. When humans arrive, frequently they tear at the very fabric of nature and attempt to make the planet submit to their will, their ways of being and what we, as human beings deem useful. Integrity is often the opposite of our vision, alien to our sensibilities or contrary to our designs. Frequently we push too hard in whatever direction our will demands, as we ignore and debase the natural flow of energy, nutrients, water and the wildlife that depended on the space we encroach upon.
The idea of integrity, as we typically think of it, is the “say what you do, do what you say,” idea. This requires us to be thoughtful, committed and dependable. Nature has ways that have worked for her for millennia, depending upon her requires shifting our focus a bit. The type of integrity Mother Earth epitomizes is to support multidimensional growth, rich diversity and nearly infinite adaptability. Being true to one’s word is one of the most important things humans can aspire to, but the integrity of the planet needs to be respected as well and we need to formulate our own actions in such a way as to uphold and respect the things that nature offers without impinging on natural systems as much as possible.
Redefining our goals may need to take a larger part in how we dissect the planet, how we relate to our place in nature’s scheme. One of the best things that I have seen resulting from the recent economic downturn is a reassessment of what we need as opposed to what we want. The rampant development that characterized the real estate boom took a back seat to survival and the Earth got a brief respite from further exploitation. In spite of this slow down, it seems that many of us did not change our minds about what direction we ultimately wanted to go. Now that the economy is gaining traction again, we seem to be throwing ourselves back into the mind set that tears down natural systems while ignoring the real need to slow down, look around and find ways of making due with less, enhancing the productivity of natural systems and finding our way toward living more sustainable lifestyles.
There are changes taking place that cannot be denied, but the big money seems to be in taking up the same path that led us to near collapse just a few years ago. Sadly, we cannot build our way out of the mess that we have inherited from generations passed. In fact, the building that we need to undertake is not even on the physical plane. Building a new society on the tenets of compassion, deep respect and abundance will take years, if not generations. The concepts and issues that have spawned many of our current difficulties were born from a basic misunderstanding of both nature and our part in it. Is it any wonder that outdoor activities have continued to gain in popularity throughout the past century? We have always had a desire to get “back to nature,” ever since we tamed the cold, the heat, insects, predators, the abundance of water and the dry times as well. We are both fascinated and filled up by time in the outdoors. That is why so many of us flock to the parks, woods, natural areas and both state and national forests.
The integrity that lies in less spoiled places renews our spirits and refreshes out bodies in ways that television and video games cannot. frequently, just getting outside for some sunshine or fresh air can change us in ways that our ancestors could not fathom. They were mostly unaware of the inherent power of the natural world to invigorate people because they spent most of their time immersed in a far more natural world than we can imagine today. When our water came from a well, we could literally look down them and see the water table. We became acutely aware of it’s status and we would never think of pumping toxic chemicals into the vast underground aquifers that literally provided life for us and will always remain under our feet. time will tell if we get back to the basic truth behind our complete and utter dependence on nature in time. This blog is meant to be both a wake up call and a treatise on the need for change in the way we see the world, our place upon it and the ways we can give back to a planet in crisis.
Humans have struggled with the question: “what separates us from the creatures of the natural world for eons.” perhaps since we stumbled blindly from the caves. We have always sought to convince ourselves that there is a certain quality that separates us from the animals. some claimed that we were the only creatures to mourn our dead, but elephants have been known to do that. We said, for a time, that it was the opposeable thumb, but that has slowly gone out of fashion because we now know the fallacy of that imaginary separation. We said that it was our use of language, until researchers determined that other species communicate complex ideas much like we try to do. the only thing that I can think of that separated us from the animals is our fixation with trying to make these sorts of distinctions. That and completely disregarding the needs of mother Nature and the survival of all the other creatures.
The best we can hope for some times is the luxury of making the time to think about our world and how we will commit to interacting with it as well as all the other co-inhabitants of Spaceship Earth. Making room in our awareness for natural systems and considering them more fully, when decision-making, can lead us to a cleaner world, a more beautiful world and a more balanced approach to building a life that is sustainable. The best way to find our way to a better world is to keep our eyes on the priceless present, while keeping our hearts focused on building the future we would have wanted to be left for us by our own ancestors. Carrying their burdens only inhibits our ability to change for the better. When we develop into the caretakers that we can easily become, we will value things differently, share more readily and find ourselves adapting to the natural world as a matter of course, not because it is trendy, not because it is popular or even because we are scared not to, but because the richness that can develop when we adapt to the natural world, rather than despoiling it carries great value in and of itself.