We are living in polarized times. The most trending news, sadly, does not reflect our most pressing crisis, which is climate and the conflict spurred by it. We don’t often check in with reality, because the human drama of blame, political game, and an off-skew frame is messing it all up.
We divide, and we blame the other side. This has to stop.
People can not ignore drama. We are a social species, and we naturally divide ourselves into “us” versus “them” because of many factors. Among these are implicit bias, fear of unknown, insecurity of belonging, a need to feel powerful, and more.
We evolved within tribal communities, and finding the false positive of a perceived threat is always the default, but now it is working against us as a species. But even in these trying times, there are voices uniting for hope. Greta Thunberg is just one, before her came a wide range of activists, young, old, black, white, spiritual and/or science based.
May the Force of Nature be with you
Powerful forces prefer we split apart. Their interests are not in the interests of most Earth beings. People invented some abstractions, like money and borders, and now reality itself is often under threat in the form of lost habitat, pollution, overcrowding, and resource insecurity conflict.
But nature knows better. Nature is neutral, and one of the very best aspects of nature is that natural laws do not discriminate. When the coming plagues arrive, they will affect a foreigner as easily as a “native.” Bacteria and virus also do not assess where you stand on the social ladder, (although clearly the tiny top minority has an advantage over the rest of us). Generally, however, Pestilence and peril do not care about your gender, your religion, your color, or your politics.
The same can be said of super storms, tornadoes, floods, fires and drought. But before you assume Nature is the enemy here, let me assure you, nature is also the solution.
Nature is not a vengeful bitch, nor a benevolent mother. Nature just is. And, thank God!*
Our differences, now, are being manipulated for gain, and in a struggle for power, but the hate you may feel for those “xenophobes and bigots”, or “useless hippie environmentalists” is somewhat of a manufactured illusion created by the human brain that easily forgets our best tool is unity.
Seemingly wrathful storms, tornadoes, floods, fires, plague, and drought have no human agency that we can understand. What they do have is a clear message that we must share intelligence and creativity. The cleanest energy of all, in fact, may be the energy we put into connections and compassion. The world needs compassion not just for our species, but for the sustaining species who create the daily Earth.
What we share
Finding our common ancestry, our shared DNA with one another and the plant is critical. Finding that nature’s resilience and strength can heal is helpful beyond measure. We pollute. We waste. But nature shows us how to contribute nutrients, and not just garbage. Nature shows us the ways of true recycling. Nature attracts us to trees, shade, beauty and oxygen, and all of these things are extremely essential for our coping, and hopefully, our ultimate recovery.
We share all of these blessings. We are all migrants, for example. No sapiens alive today came from one place or time. We all need water, food, shelter, and clean air. We, culturally thrive on sharing these things, and by providing them for one another we connect. All of our art, music, literature and so on, is informed by our sense of belonging to place and time.
Even our religions, although entirely unrecognizable from their origins, are based on a sense of belonging. When you find yourself a hater because someone else worships differently and eats a weird diet, remember your ancestors did the same. Regional differences, just like diversity in plant and animal populations, enrich and provide robust traits.
We thrive only with diversity. Our planet survives not on monoculture, but on rich variation. Think of having to eat corn every day for the rest of your life. Quantity over quality creates impoverished lives. It is the same with our brothers and sisters, viva la difference, and cherish our shared similarities.
Nature’s Bounty is calling you
Nature is wonderful because her rule is one of abundance. If you have strolled through a ‘snowstorm’ of seeds on the wind, stood in a tangled forest, watched a migration of fish or fowl, you understand abundance.
That said, out of over 300,000 edible plants, we cultivate only about 2,000. Out of that 2,000, corn, rice, soy and wheat dominate. What variety and taste we are missing! But, by striving to share and inform one another, we can improve health and food security. This is hopeful, and also creates vital connections that highlight our shared interests.
There are few activities as rewarding as a communal garden. Get down and dirty with your perceived enemies.
Nature’s beauty is well known. We thrill to see David Attenborough’s series and learn about what is out there, but it is even more universal to connect to nature through personal experience. No one sees a vast field of stars for the first time and says, “meh.” No one breathlessly accounts his or her first experience texting in the same way they talk about their first camping trip. No one ignores an animal that appears in the path ahead, especially if the beast is rare. No one sees an amazing sunset, or crisp mountain sunrise, and fails to appreciate it on some level.
In fact, we are all wired to be very attracted to nature by threads I call Selene Allures (named for the moon goddess Selene and moon’s pull on our planet). People will even set down their cell phones to see a dog or a cat. We are very, very attracted to other animals, and our behavior is well documented to reflect this.
Countless studies have also shown that even a tiny bit of exposure to greenery improves productivity, output, mood, and ability. Nature is not a luxury, but a necessity. When we share it despite our differences, we unite. We understand. We feel belonging.
Join Team Earth to cheer for the actual wildcats
Finally, a creative spirit of determination and dedication is integral to our species. We don’t enjoy stories about someone who lounged around through the Odyssey. We don’t aspire to Star Trek or Star Wars heroics because the powerful bully is in charge, and admirable. We don’t talk about the greatest generation as couch potatoes. We don’t celebrate those who cracked the whip, or fire hosed the oppressed. No. We love the rebels, the determined, the passionate, and the rag tag crew of underdog heroes.
Is there a protest going on in some part of the world today? Who is being beaten up, and who best represents your values?
We love team sports. Why is that? It’s because of our need to belong. But to really belong, fight for the actual dolphins, or eagles, or seahawks, or bears, or wildcats. Whatever. The point is you share DNA, and belonging. We need each other, especially pollinators, planters, and providers.
Unite, and find in our belonging to nature, our belonging to one another and a better world.
*God, or nature, for those of us who don’t divide creation from creator.