Living without clean air, water, and food is not natural. Therefore, we are still dependent upon, and part of, nature.
Anyone who does not believe they are part of nature needs to show we don't need these things, and more. Nature sustains all of us, of course. That said, we have turned from nature in major ways. We evolved in nature, and then we turned away from that which sustains us. Now we have got to make our way back to the garden. Our biology is internal and external, we must learn from it.
Human beings are disconnected from nature. We live indoors and online. We eat, wear, and manufacture artificial goods. We get stuck in traffic, or on the couch. We even share our “human” time on activities full of distraction. We do not focus on others, or outdoors itself. However we still breathe air, drink water, consume food, and to the soil we shall return. This critical time in history, is one in which our species has been given not just the gift of life we have had for one million short years, but the choice about whether or not we should preserve that life. Are we not the most successful species of all? First, you must define success. Some see seven billion people as a dire warning that we have made the sky too heavy, it is falling, and we made our ground too insubstantial, it's blowing away.
We stand alone as the only creature known to carve the world, color the sky, and curse the very soil from which we came. Has there ever been an imagined story, movie, poem, song, about our intent to end life? No. Yet, for animals born from nature that require nature to live, we are insanely behaving as though we hated life, whilst at the same time we cherish, adore, worship, and even idealize nature.
How is it our behavior is so different from our most cherished desires? We are easily deluded and even self deluding, choosing to believe positive messages that flood over us daily, we learn this is how to make “a living.” So we participate in the disconnection. This makes us different from other animals, which are not so distracted by thoughts, language, abstraction and who are still very much living outdoors and sensing it. We created a myth about an Eden, and we have been trying to get back there ever since.
Nature's sense is still deep within us, we mine those depths for our music, art, written word, and even industry. Our external senses are turned off. Where can you find the serenity of the hills, hear birdsong, smell forests, laze all day on a shore daily?
It happened so gradually that we, even now, do not really realize to what extent we impact the air, water, food, and habitats required to sustain life. We sanitize. We compartmentalize. We have learned not to have to get our hands covered with blood and guts. We don’t want to know about how taking a short drive to escape the stress of our incredibly stressful indoor lives actually contributes to the demise of some polar bear cub somewhere. We eat on the run, knowing nothing, and not wanting to know food's origin.
We, by fact of our larger brains, have developed a system of rationalization that allows us to live in denial. We are very easily beguiled into thinking that more stuff means better life. When our craving is not fulfilled, we look toward the next commercial. Maybe the next thing, whether it be a car, home, décor, sandwich, diet, whatever, will finally fulfill us.
We are still part of nature, it is in every car commercial, (notice how there is no other traffic among the gorgeous scenery) It is in every soda or beer commercial, (see how they thrive with outdoor adventures, fun, and connection). It is even in every ad, billboard, posting, junk mail, spam, and persuasion, even from the “dirty fuels” corporations! It’s a little trick they learned. To take what is deep within you, what you crave outside your window, sprinkle it like glitter upon products and services, and you will be hooked! Everyone, everywhere, seems to recognize that glorious sky, snoozing fawns, wild horses running free, waves breaking, all these things are of immense value to us. The trick is how we will turn our values into our behaviors. We once knew the skies so our crops could thrive. We once knew landscapes, as there were no cars. We once lived in inter-dependence with our neighbors, family, and community. Isolation is now the norm. We once knew what few natives living in harmony with land and sea still hold on to tenaciously. Do we have to go back to being barbarians? That is a loaded question. We have to go forward to being enlightened human animals. And we have to take our technology in that direction.
There is a secret to life. It is not stuff; it is not knowledge, or even the greatest works of art by Bach or Botticelli, Michelangelo, or Michael Jackson. It is not found in the bible, or in the words of Jesus, Lao Tzu, or Buddha, even though they directed many toward the secret. The secret is this: It is LIFE that makes life fulfilling. Abundant life, diverse and multitudinous life, deep caverns, brilliant sunsets, leaping gazelles, pouncing cubs, pristine forests, every minute molecule up to every enormous star. Without bio-diversity we die. We belong among these. We are made of these things, we share atoms and aspirations. We are life.
When human beings rediscover that we are from nature, we will align ourselves in nondestructive ways that allow us to sit atop a mountain, raft a lazy river; lie under a summer sky of puffy clouds, or glittering stars. We can recall ourselves belonging here. Hearts and minds will change. History, however teaches that things must get much, much worse before they get better. Climate change and resource wars have already led to extinctions, genocide, epidemics, famine, and floods. It’s all very Biblically apocalyptic, and many seek to capitalize even on that.
Change is here. If you watch the news you cannot miss it. We are learning the true costs of our disconnection with nature when we realize our alienation, our wars, our toxins both inner, and externally, such as when our addiction to oil threatens spills, political blame, when we realize we seek comfort in addictions to food, drugs, shopping, and more. Psychology, it turns out is not about your sex drive, your child hood trauma, or even your mind. Despite these influences, psychology is more appropriately called Ecopsychology. It is about your brain and body, born from nature, and torn from nature.
When the answers that are blowing in the wind are nuanced by more than just pollution, we will begin to align ourselves more wisely with our earth. All of us have had glimmers of it occurring, we will take control of all the parts of ourselves that threaten our air, water, soil, and beauty, and we will put all our ingenuity and genius into protecting it as much as we care for it.