In the Economist, a very interesting article was published today about the ecosystem within the human body, looking at a person not just as the usual biological, individual body, but as a collection of microbes, bugs and the human being combining into a harmonious ecosystem which in an ideal scenario lives in a healthy symbiosis.
This is the first paragraph of the article:
"WHAT’S a man? Or, indeed, a woman? Biologically, the answer might seem obvious. A human being is an individual who has grown from a fertilized egg which contained genes from both father and mother. A growing band of biologists, however, think this definition incomplete. They see people not just as individuals, but also as ecosystems. In their view, the descendant of the fertilised egg is merely one component of the system. The others are trillions of bacteria, each equally an individual, which are found in a person’s gut, his mouth, his scalp, his skin and all of the crevices and orifices that subtend from his body’s surface."
The article concludes that if medical sciences take the findings seriously and start using them actively in prevention and treatment, a vast number of potentially serious diseases could be prevented or treated successfully.
This approach, which looks inside our body on the macroscopic scale promises much. But there is another aspect, another, a macroscopic ecosystem that needs to be taken seriously for the overall health, and future of human beings. This ecosystem is the global human society, and the relationship in between this global human society and the natural system around us.
It is perplexing that humans in general accept that inside their biological body there is a natural ecosystem thriving for general harmony and homeostasis as any other living system. It is also generally accepted that the vast natural system around us is based on the same laws, governing harmony and homeostasis.
Still when it comes to the human being, somehow there exists the notion that humans individually, or as a society do not belong to this natural system, the laws of general harmony and homeostasis do not apply to us. Our whole present socio-economic system is based on ruthless competition from the earliest level of education to every other level of human life. The governing system and the main economic model is still working on the "minimum investment/maximum profit, exploitative model, and as the global crisis deepens the first ballast to be thrown out of the balloon is the social net, support for lower social layers, the elderly, generally the weaker and poorer parts of human society.
At the same time, newer and newer evidence surfaces each day that humanity has evolved into a single, integral and interdependent network. In fact humanity today resembles a single, united organism, each human being like a single cell of the same living body. Whether we like it or not these interconnections, the lifeline running through the whole of humanity is established, and will remain established.
Humanity's future, survival will depend on how fast will people learn how to use these vital connections in a mutually responsible, positive way.