The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Tuesday, 1 November 2016
interrelationship – or why the anthropocentric view has to fail
But I was at a Rewilding Dartmoor conference at the weekend; very inspiring range of talks, presentations and audience knowledge. (The most trenchant contribution was from Peter Taylor, perhaps the originator of the term 'Rewilding', or certainly one of its godfathers.)
The content of the day is for another more spacious time, but as always when I attend something like this, I come away thinking about the elephant in the room: namely our insidious, dangerous post-Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian belief that this planet was put here for us, to serve our every desire, no matter what the cost, and that we're top of the heap, naturally and indisputably.
I'm sure I've said this before, and it's the core theme behind my work with The Wild Ways. But I'll say it again: nothing will change until we shift our consciousness from the hierarchical anthropocentricity with which we tend unconsciously to view the rest of the natural world to one in which we know, and live as if we know, that the wise – maybe the only – way forward is that of ecocentricity: we're each part of the web, we're all in this together in what Buddhism calls interdependent co-arising. Each tiny part is essential to the whole.
Even those keenest on sustainability seem to simply not get this.
When I got back, I opened a package that contained a book of essays by Mary Oliver: Winter Hours.
Here's a passage from the title sequence that comes in at such a view laterally. (I've separated her paragraph into individual ideas to further clarify my point):
'When I write about nature directly, or refer to it, here are some things I don't mean, and a few I do.
'I don't mean nature as ornamental, however scalloped and glowing it may be.
'I don't mean nature as useful to man [sic] if that possibility of utility takes from an object [also sic] its own inherent value. Or, even, diminishes it.
'I don't mean nature as calamity, as vista, as vacation or recreation.
'I don't mean landscape in which we find rest and pleasure – although we do – so much as I mean landscapes in which we are reinforced in our sense of the world as a mystery, a mystery that entails other privileges besides our own – and also, therefore... right and wrong behaviors pertaining to that mystery, diminishing it or defending it.'
We are an integral part of that greater whole, that Mystery, with our own particular contribution to make – but we humans are not a superior part, in my view. Each part is unique; each is consciousness; each essential in its own way.
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