what is “the environment”?
here is a merriam-webster definition
- the circumstances, objects or conditions by which one is surrounded;
- the complex of climatic, edaphic and biotic factors that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival;
- the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community.
what do you notice?
“one is surrounded”
“factors that act upon”
“determine form and survival”
it’s written in “us vs. them” language, it’s an “i vs. the other” definition. it’s also a definition that does not take into account how we act upon the environment.
this is at least partly what has brought us to the state where we are today, from species extinction, to rapid melting of ice in the arctic and antarctic, to violent meteorological changes.
i wonder whether humanity as a whole is going through the same developmental stages that individuals go through.
roughly, as small children, we are wholly dependent on our parents – our familial environment.
as we grow older and especially as teenagers, our developmental task is to assert our independence. that’s when “i vs. the other” is of tremendous importance.
we make sure everyone can see how different we are from our parents and other elders, and we also challenge the larger environment. on a societal level, for some it’s the only time of political activism. we even test and try the natural environment. (i remember a year of walking barefoot even in the coldest weather. just because it was cool and i could. never mind the bladder infections.)
following that phase, if we’re lucky (or determined, or get pushed), we mature into a sense of interdependence.
it looks like we’re still behaving like teenagers, and that patiently waiting until we mature into interdependence probably won’t work out. circumstances are pushing us to mature faster than we’d like to, and if we’re not determined to respond to that push, we may not be able to see humanity’s children and grandchildren grow.
paradoxically enough, even accelerated growth needs to be mostly organic and wants elements of gentleness and patience.
and since we’re all part of this big sea of humanity, it always comes down to individual action.
what action are you willing, able and happy to do today, organically and in all gentleness, to show your interdependence with the environment?
(this post was mentioned in the best of me symphony)