Heal the world — heal ourselves
I lived my entire life alone. It was always me and them. I found a woman and “I” became “we,” and thus it was us and them. It was much the same when we had children. There was us and there was everything else. We were separate entities, us and nature, and we lived our lives apart, at least in our minds.
We often saw ourselves as all-important, above everything else. We consumed all that we wanted, much more than what we needed. Everything we didn’t want, we threw into the trash or out the windows of our automobiles that we purchased because they could take us places faster than other automobiles.
My ancestors were among the first to arrive in this place when it was covered with forest and grasslands abundant with wildlife on the ground, in the air, and in the watershed. We took what we wanted, at first by force and later by commerce, thinking that there was an endless quantity of everything. We saw the endless forest as useless and proceeded to clear the land of every living thing. What we found was excess, so forest after forest was cut, piled, and burned to make way for roads of asphalt and cement.
Wildlife was pushed out of existence for sport and fashion. The rest we used for slave labor until worn out; then they went to the soap factory or became grease for our wheels. Any animals we don’t use for sport are caged — forced fed, killed, cleaned, and eaten along with vegetables that are poison and genetically enhanced. We consume twice as much as we need, therefore half of the world’s population does not get enough to eat.
Man has killed man at an ever increasing rate since early man first took molten iron from a volcano and shaped swords instead of shovels. Weapons are never great enough or can kill enough, so ever and ever more power is required until we can destroy in one day what has taken thousands of years to build. Destroy, destroy, and destroy everything in a vicious manner with great armies and war machines that now threaten total annihilation.
We worship those who are capable of the most destruction and we freely give our children to travel to foreign lands to slaughter or be slaughtered. We go to war at the slightest whim, raining death from above for reasons we neither know nor care about. Recorded history of over some 8000 years or so would be lucky to list more than 500 years free of armed conflict. Enough!
Now I’m old and wish to repair the damage I’ve done before I die. The problem is that I could plant and water trees on Putah Creek for a hundred years and still not make up for the damage I’ve done through the years. I’ve spewed gas into the air with my automobiles and poisoned the ground with my pesticides and herbicides.
I’ve held myself above the natural world and only now find myself asking nature’s forgiveness for my indifference. I now find myself pushing others towards a greater relationship with nature and the environment and those striving to repair hundreds of years harm and neglect we are all guilty of committing. If we want to change our environment, we must change ourselves.
“A human being is part of the whole called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this delusion by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.”