We hear all kinds of arguments for preserving the rainforests and at least slowing down the destruction of species we have not even discovered yet. One of the big arguments is that these species might hold secrets that could heal us of some of our difficult diseases.
That sounds stunningly like more exploitation talking instead of any genuine reverence for life itself. If we can wring something useful out of it, go ahead and let it live, at least until we get what we want from it.
It has been awhile since I saw the story and I do not remember all the details, but a woman with a terminal illness was outraged she could not get an experimental drug that might (note I said “might”) prolong her life. The problem was that the source of the drug involved killing an endangered species.
She protested vehemently in the news, “I am a species too!”
I remember that line quite clearly. But she is an individual, not a species. And an individual of what possibly is an overpopulated species at that.
That is typical of human thinking, we as individuals or as a species are all important. We should have whatever we think we need or want, regardless of the cost to other beings and the planet herself.
Property rights are touted as inviolable, entitling owners to plunder the land for whatever gain they can achieve. Mounds of toxic mining wastes are one result of this approach. The loss of half our precious topsoil in the Midwestern USA is another. The list can go on much longer, but I leave it to you to observe all around you.
Where in all this is a sense of stewardship? A concept that other beings might actually have the right to exist for themselves, not just for us?
Without even that idea in place, how do we as a species deal with the living being that is the planet we inhabit? Taken as a whole, the earth herself meets scientific criteria for being considered a living organism.
What does that mean in our daily lives? Not much apparently. The earth as a living organism is mostly a dry academic concept, not a heartfelt reality that shapes our lives or infuses our way of being.
We are asking all the wrong questions. Instead of how we can get what we want (voraciously and endlessly want as consumers) and how we can get it cheaper and faster, what if we asked a different question? What if we asked how we live harmoniously on the earth with the earth?
That question leads to completely different answers. Answers many of us do not want at all. It might cost something to live in balance with other living beings that are not human, that may be smaller or larger than we are. It might require surrendering many of the common distractions in our lives.
And if people want anything at all, it is to hang onto their distractions so they can avoid really seeing that person looking back at them in the mirror. Enough distractions and we can avoid the real questions of life and feel like we are all right, nice people, as we consume more and more and more. We can become a toxic malady of the earth and not even notice we are doing so.
However, the earth will continue, even if she ultimately has to shake off a nasty human plague.
So, how about you personally? Do you think you are part of the malady or part of the healing? How do you see this? What choices do you make every day that reveal your deepest attitudes?
Copyright © Lexi Sundell 2008. All Rights Reserved.