by Charles Mish
In a time when we are witnessing the poisoning of earth, sea and sky, the doubling of the human multitudes, and the deforestation and overheating of the planet, we can see that the Age of Reason, the so-called “Enlightenment,” marked the beginning of a steep planetary decline.
Ascribing consciousness only to ourselves, we denied it to stones, plants, and animals. The magic of the I-Thou relationship to nature succumbed to a feeling of superiority to nature. In this lofty position, we are now finding ourselves alone and alienated in a spiraling-out-of-balance universe.
Two centuries of scientific analysis and the technological exploitation of the earth and its energies have diminished us to spiritually and brought organic life on Earth to the brink of collapse.
Sixty years into the Industrial Revolution, Yeats wrote:
Locke sank into a swoon,
the Garden died.
God took a spinning Jenny
out of his side.
When Locke, the new Adam of Rationalism, awakes, he finds at his side not a woman, but a machine, symbol of the dawning Technological Age. Attempting to liberate us from hunger, poverty, and disease, the masters of industry have used machines to assault the earth in a most irrational and terrifying way.
When we began to see the earth as a repository of ” natural resources” to be used to satisfy our greed rather than as the Great Mother of all life, we cut ourselves off from that vast rich mythological world open to our hunter gatherer and agricultural ancestors. In Yeats’s words, “The garden died.”
Seen from the windows of thick-walled offices and homes – rocks, trees, ravens, and clouds seem empty of energy, particularly of divine energy. And if our children do not pick an apple from a tree, or watch a chick hatch from an egg, or see a seed buried in the cold dark ground sprout up in the spring, then they are cut off from the direct experiences of nature which form the basis of all major religions.
Instead of seeing Earth as a storehouse from which we can take whatever we want regardless of the consequences, we could see ourselves as children of Mother Earth, where there is taking, yes, but also giving back.
Looking closely, we observe Nature follows the path of reciprocal maintenance.
Plants take carbon dioxide from the air, give back oxygen, and send up to 40% of the carbon down to its roots. Here microorganisms take carbon from the plant and give back minerals.
Herbivores graze on grass but excrete 70% of the minerals they ingest back into the soil.
According to a Nobel scientist, a worldwide return to organic agriculture could REVERSE global warming by removing the excess carbon in the atmosphere and storing it back in the soil whence it came.
As Christians around the world celebrate the mystery of Easter during the renewal of life in the spring, let us not forget to extend the golden rule – love your neighbor as yourself – to Great Mother Earth as well.
As the Buddhists say, “May all beings be happy.”