You Really Need To Understand Ecopsychology To Thrive And Survive
A short introduction to Ecopsychology, and a parable to illustrate your own survival
We come to Earth in pain, often taking our first gulp of air with a stinging slap and the harsh glare of light and noise. We bond first with out mother, soon learning that all giving and nurturing comes directly from her. It is much the same with our Mother Earth. Throughout the infancy of humankind, we were given all gifts in plenitude; all given within the more-or-less comforting climate of East Africa when it was still green.
Life spans were short, and yes, there was pain, without the modern interventions of antibiotics or surgery we take for granted today. But because smaller bands of people worked and lived closely together, there was also a supreme sense that the abundance of game in the forests and fields, fires at our camps, the stars overhead, winds and waters, and most especially one another were all related, all inter-dependent, and most likely sacred.
Being mindfully in the here and now introduced tools to cooperate, comprehend our natural connections, be grateful for our symbiosis and our senses. It taught us to share. It also helped create the sacred idea of eternity.
For most of sapien history, there were few of our kind, and every resource we knew was laid out like a banquet. Just prior to ten thousand years ago, our ancestors roamed, hunted and used tools hewn from rock, something they had done for 200,000 years. When agriculture began, so began also, a way of living that required more than just small tribes. With settlements tending toward a central location, cooperation among those tribes necessitated hierarchy.
Hierarchy is a mixed bag. Advancement came for some at the cost of abandoning others. Now our brains are big enough to see we don’t benefit from rigid, or ranking hierarchy, in fact, it pulls us toward destruction.
Racism, sexism, other-ism of any kind keeps us destroying all resources, human and others, that we need to survive in our continuing co-evolution.
In short, Ecopsychology is knowing our belonging to Earth.
Re-connection to our life-sustaining earth, and creating relationships to support each other and biodiversity are required, or we damage it all.
Parable for your life: A Flame for fidelity
She has a fever, so she catches herself in dizzying dance. She gazes at the sun. It’s scorching. She tries to feel the coolness at the top of her head and southerly areas of her body. She cracks and adjusts an ice pack. It is melting. Fast.
She is infected. The parasites that bring on the fever are multiplying faster than she can count. She’s tried every ancient remedy. Nothing brings relief.
Her name is Terra. Her name is Gaia. Danu. Or Anu. She has many names.
Terra does not feel wrath. She does not feel love either. But she does feel natural attractions, just as we all do. Like strong and weak nuclear forces, her electromagnetic force, and gravity. Gravity is awesome. It allowed her to spin off from her family constellation and become an individual in her own right.
But, what about love? Isn’t it a natural attraction, a force? A Selene Allure? Isn’t Love the fifth force? Gravity cannot be blamed for people falling in love. Some wise man* once said it. She cannot know for sure about love. It is an enthralling puzzle.
Some of her best friends, especially the birds and forests, say that she does ‘love’; that Terra created them with love. She has an unconscious symbiosis with them and their soothing relief is something like love. Maybe it’s love.
She needs them, this she knows. She’s lost them before, and felt desolate.
When she feels the freshness of forests, the shivery waves of grasslands, the cooling waters, she is better. It is medicine. Venerable medicine. She might want to know love, but if she did she would be quite an imperfect goddess, wouldn’t she? A perfect entity, especially one as real as Terra , as observable as all other luminaries in the heavens, can NOT be biased.
A biased entity is not reliable. Not trustworthy. Not true. Truth matters to Terra. Only a fool, an utter, and complete fool, could imagine that a perfect Being plays favorites. A lot of rot, that. Yet, there are such beings, ironically, ones she gave consciousness. They egocentrically assume that they are ‘special.’
She wheezes, turns in febrile discomfort, nauseous in sensing contagious plague will strike all of her children.
Like all of us, Terra is covered — and comprised of — multitudes of life forms. Her body is self- regulating. And as much as she would feel love, if she does, if she could, could she feel hate for the parasites? Daily they drill her flesh, run rampant over her skin, choke her with their waste, take all of her beauty and sustaining life-forms. In return they leave heaps of hideous toxins, trash, and silly notions, like the one about their favored status.
Logically, she can neither love nor hate. She didn’t make the laws. She just has to follow them. Reciprocity. Exchange. Fidelity.
They call her names, insults. She is a bitch. She is the wrath of God. She is the scarlet whore red in tooth and claw. They fear death. But what worlds have they woven out of wind, wildness, and whim? Besides, not even the spiraling stars are born without death.
Of course she knows evolution. Evolution is Terra’s handmaiden. Evolution shaped endless forms; beings most beautiful and most wonderful. In her own way she marvels in utter worship of Evolution. But she knows it’s wrong to have bias, and she is never wrong.
Still, she comprehends symbiosis and cooperation, not just the death-that- gives- all life. It is as real as she is. There is a kind of survival of the fittest, but again that’s biased terminology. The fittest is not the poor victim of sloshing obesity rolling down a Mega-mart aisle, or the unfortunate orphan of famine, either.
To Terra’s manner of thinking, a rare, endangered, and lustrously gorgeous leopard is fit.
…Leopard, Leopard splendor made, In tangled jungle, claiming shade
What immortals, artists all, deftly balanced craft and crawl?
What the amber? What the jet? In what mind’s eye was this jewel set?…
She sings her leopard song, and sets it on the breeze. She sighs. The wisps whip up into an unintended hurricane. These are the storms of her sickness, the tempests of her infirmity.
She cannot help it. Part of her wants to love, wants to be biased; aches to be the Mother Nature who it is not nice to fool.
Although, she thinks more accurately: it is not nice to foul Mother Nature.
And her sighs go on.
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