I think about this often when I hear talk about getting out into "nature," or saving the "environment." Language is tricky because we humans are not separable from "nature" and the "environment." It is not an us-them situation, where people are standing outside of nature, making choices about whether to protect or destroy an environment that is not us. It is all ONE - we are all ONE. In fact, we humans are so deeply embedded in and inseparable from our environment that we are utterly dependent upon the breath of trees and the water and food in the rivers and the vibrant soil that feeds our veggies and fruits.
Questions -- how would you describe your own personal relationship with the earth? How do you feel about nature? What are your beliefs?
How we answer these questions will help us understand how we have gotten where we are, and how to get to a better place. What is our relationship with the earth? Do we see ourselves as caretakers, benevolent aunts and uncles who act as protectors? Do we see ourselves as masters of the universe, entitled to do what we wish with the earth's bounty? Or do we see our relationship with the earth as a reciprocal one - where there is interdependence?
Do we feel scared, or awed, or curious, or angry in relation to nature? Or indifferent? Or grateful?
Do we believe that there is an endless supply of all that we need, that what we take from the earth will naturally or maybe magically regenerate or be replenished? Do we believe that there are limits? Wow. Limits. That's a topic for another day.
So much of how we answer these questions depends upon what our own lives have been like. Someone who has experienced Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana or the recent devastating earthquake-tsunami-nuclear crisis in Japan will answer the questions differently from someone who has never been without access to safe food and shelter.
How we answer these questions collectively will directly influence what happens in the present and future.
I am curious about how a healthy collective vision develops, particularly in the bitter bi-partisan atmosphere in our own country. I am curious about this, and I suspect, I hope that a healthy collective vision grows from the ground up. From parent to child, neighbor to neighbor, community to community. This gives me hope.
Yes, language is tricky and it is powerful. Think about the words of HOPE, ONE, NEIGHBOR, COLLECTIVE, SAFE, HEALTHY. Feel the words -- hold them in your heart and share them with others and see what grows.