Humanity Can Heal With Our Re-Connection to Nature
Thoughts on ecopsychology to give you hope in a heated world
Our stories are not enough
Human beings are storytellers. Much of our present danger and urgency is due to our advanced ability to think in stories, rather than to feel reality.
As Yuval Harari has noted, we invent non-real fictional entities such as economics, borders, money, and religion. We often live as if they are more important than our immersion into the biosphere that creates weather, food, habitats, and more.
Everything is processed through our brains, we have learned markers, bias, and more, that make us more tribal than is always good for us. The late great E.O. Wilson said,
“We have paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology.”
Some people are so entrenched within feelings of supremacy, hierarchical dominance, and superficial things like skin color, gender, nationalism, class, and more, that we threaten to destroy civilization.
We are also dragging the natural world down with us, and that makes us feel horrible. But are we such a pathetic species?
Are we just takers, not givers?
When we see the natural world as ours to “take from, we all lose, over-exploitation, the world is realizing, is a disaster. Literally.
We ignore our belonging to the natural world, the reverse to “owning it” as no other species does. This puts us in danger but also hurts the biosphere.
We tend to use the natural world for its abundance of resources, forests, animals, minerals, and so on, but we have largely forgotten our sacred and spiritual connection to our planet.
Ecopsychology is human psychology based on the assumption that our species belongs to the Earth. We live and breathe, in ecosystems, yet we have social and psychological minds. That is, sapiens evolved with this planet, its systems and habitats, and one another.
Gadgets predicted for 2022 and beyond suggest we can all wear virtual reality goggles (including cows!) even when outside. Or, we can meet with one another as digital avatars. We don’t have to interact with the grocery market or share car rides due to self-driving cars. Many will attain delivery-bots, drones, robots, and automated “co-workers” will be normalized.
Such a dystopia gives me nightmares. The pollution alone (all this stuff comes from Earth) is devastating for both psyche, and eco-systems.
What happens to love of birds (and protections of them and trees) if we get focused on pop music, superheroes, or games when we are presented with a chance to BE in the real world?
I love technology that can be used to help us green our spaces, plant diverse vegetation, cool and water our hot urban areas, keep adding to clean battery/energy systems storage, and find ways to conserve all valuable resources.
But like nature herself, science and technology is neutral and can work for our destruction or creation, depending upon what we choose.
Normally, human beings choose bits of both.
Ecopsychologists advise you to connect to that which makes your breath and heartbeat. (Life) Find the reward and health benefits from senses.
Your senses, beyond the usual five, include things like warmth, thirst, and movement.
People now augment reality with devices, but you don’t need them for a walk outdoors. Without having taken a fully physical and psychological inventory of it, we have let our connections to a supportive planet slip away from us.
This leads us astray.
We largely separated from our many connections of community, food, and living outdoors as we began to widely disperse, invent complex hierarchal systems of religion and governing, and as we advanced our technology. As we separated from immersion in nature, hunting, sowing, following the stars, following crops, flocks, and seasons, we changed.
With writing, we invented complex language, codes, maps, and eventually abstraction so devolved from the physical that we went virtual with much of our narrative being digital, rather than sensual. Cryptocurrency, people say is the “real” future.
Nature is literally under fire
And some species are literally drowning, too. This week it’s another ice storm in Texas. Where ever you are, you can feel the disconnect, and you can even feel despair.
Extinction is the one thing that hits my heart the hardest. It is happening daily, and it is forever.
As we enter trans apocalyptic “forever fire” and regional flood seasons, war, or refugee/ revolution, we can sense the change in the air that marks our adaptation.
It is not annihilation if we react appropriately.
A crash, either brought on ecological collapse, plague, extinctions, resulting conflicts, climate uncertainty, or most likely, unique combinations will continue to unfold.
We are not headed back to “normal”, or a “new normal” but into a “weird normal.” That is because we have never been more than eight billion, and we have never had so much power over the living world.
Many of us believe it will not be one single thing, but a multitude of tiny ravages that slowly shred the former world into a new fabric.
This does not necessarily mean all is lost. If we apply our human minds, determined will, and most of all, attention to nature’s limits and gifts, we have gigantic opportunities to benefit from.
Go outside and feel abundance
If we feel nature’s abundance, we can tap into it.
If we despair, we have to fight our own nature, which is to belong to one another and the world.
Therefore, allow yourself the truth of your feelings, but don’t wallow in despair. Instead, understand that you are part of the healing.
This, in essence, is ecopsychology.
Not to give up, but to struggle for survival, and to join a myriad of working and networking systems, such as weather, hydrology, animals, forests, societies, and communities.
The time to acknowledge our need for our planet, to protect, defend, collaborate, innovate, and most of all, share, has never been more clear.