In a blog I had written in 2014, I made reference to the gradual disconnect which has been occurring between human society and nature since particularly the dawn of the industrial age. Indeed, the effects this has had on the collective human psyche have been profound (to see the original post, please click here). What I did not include at that time was any discussion on the effect that our often-negative attitude toward ourselves in the context of our relationship with nature has had on our making positive change in that regard. In other words, it is high time to start being more positive about the environment and our relationship with it if we are hoping to make real headway in healing it.
Up until very recently, we seem to have held on to this guilt trip--that we as a species have been nothing but a burden, or as some have put it, a "cancer" upon the earth. These ideas seem to do more harm than good when it comes to motivating a positive change. When the collective "self image" of humanity is so low, how can one expect anything but negative results? How do we transform our way of being on this planet when we imagine ourselves as a disease?
In recent centuries, we have embraced the illusion that we are somehow a separate and independent entity from nature, and in many schools of thought, superior to it. When we remember that we are a part of the grand scheme of things in the natural world--that we are living creatures interdependent within nature, the whole game changes. Instead of trying to take on the responsibility of the well-being of an entire planet, we must begin to be "selfish". Now, I don't mean selfish in the sense of ignorance of the well-being of other life forms--quite the contrary. I am talking about a genuine care for the "self"--starting from the centre, from the heart, and expanding outward. Let's begin with our own backyards, our own homes, ourselves and our loved ones.
To envision how this works, take for example your own personal health. You decide that you would like to take better care of your physical fitness. Instead of driving to work, you begin to bike or walk. The result is you are acquiring better cardiovascular health, more stamina and begin to feel better all around. However, you'll notice that in addition to a greater personal sense of well-being, something else is being achieved here. Due to your taking better personal care, you are using less fossil fuel and your environmental impact has diminished. It can be as simple as this. Take another example of someone wanting to improve her health by eating more raw fresh fruits and vegetables. Being that it is a challenge to know what is done to many foods nowadays even in the produce section of a grocery store, most would agree one of the best ways of ensuring you know that you are getting the real deal as far as fresh produce, would be to grow your own food. Therefore she begins to grow her own fruits and vegetables in her backyard. So now in addition to having the freshest raw food possible, full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, with little to no storage time which has also been known to decrease nutrient value, look at the effects on a broader scale. No transportation and therefore no fuel consumption, no storage in a produce warehouse or supermarket, which also consumes energy, no pesticide use if she grows them organically (also better for health) and so on--all because she chose to look after herself a little more.
This same mindset can be applied in so many other ways. Please understand that I am not saying stop caring about the planet altogether. I am saying that caring has to begin with the self and the immediate home and that concern for the planet does not begin with guilt or a negative perception of humankind. It is possible to embrace positive change and enjoy the journey instead of making a chore out of it, and the best place to start is at the heart.
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Ted Bahr is the founder of Prairie Sage Permaculture Click Here for the Home Page
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