Reverence for Life

Butterfly and Poppy

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?

This post is in the Change of Being Series begun on Earth Day. The prior post in the series was Self Responsibility. The next post in the series is The Unvarnished Truth. Photo by Lexi Sundell.

Copyright © Lexi Sundell 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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6 thoughts on “Reverence for Life

  1. kl

    Great article, and SO vital to what’s going on right now.

    It’s not that we need to change the world, but we need to change our perspective of the world. Our internal selves need to change, and change fast if we are to survive.

    I love the idea of stewardship – it acknowledges the fact that we are only on this planet for a heartbeat, and that we are a part of the planet, a part of life.

    It is not for us to dominate. It is for us to appreciate.

    More like this please!

  2. Lexi Sundell

    Thanks KL, I feel pretty strongly about this one. Actually felt good to get it written. I am glad you resonated with it!


  3. kl

    I’ve been reading about the food crisis, and one particular photo really moved me. (see it here – )

    Watching people crawling over garbage heaps like ants in search of food I had a sudden flash of a different time, when that same land would have been forest, and people would have collected nuts, berries, fruits, plants and animals for food.

    As Chief Seattle once said (paraphased), “Only when all the animals, all the trees, all the plants and all the water are gone will man discover that he can’t eat money.”

    Humanity’s fruitless search for security through the acquisition of wealth has completely missed the point when it comes to life, and it will drive us to our deaths.

    Or not.

    As you can see, this issue compels me too.

    It is time for a shift in humanity, we know that (some of us do anyway). How do those of us with spiritual understandings of life take our way of being into the world of those dominated by material ways of being and work with them to affect change?

    The earth lives, as surely as we do, and her presence is felt in every insect, every animal, every fish, every bird, every plant – even the rocks and the mountains. In connecting again to that which is in all of us, we find that sense of security.

    We come Home.

  4. Ausearth

    Thank you,
    If we learn her language, take the time to listen we will hear her and hear her, she is speaking all the time. Her language is the first language we knew, before we learnt to think in pictures and words. Its the language of smell of chemistry. The same language all the cells in our body use. remember this language and you will hear her. I am head over heals over this lady, my mother my sister my child. This is the relationship we need to have with this earth. She is alive and conscious and loves all life deeply.
    Thank you I am grateful for your clarity.

  5. Lexi Sundell

    Wow! Thank you for joining the conversation. I naturally tend to think of communicating with the earth energetically. Hearing you speak of it as a chemistry language is a lovely perspective!

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