Relationships with nature

Finding and implementing solutions to the staggering list of environmental crises takes different relationships with nature than is common right now. Improving our relationships with the natural environment is an evolutionary process. These changes involve outgrowing a previous relationship that engendered deep convictions about life and our possibilities. We don't change our minds easily about life on the planet, because we continue to manufacture self-confirming evidence that proves we are already right. We assume we have nothing to learn from the effects of our actions because we already know what causes them and what to do about them. We live inside our self-justifying relationship with nature. We maintain our story as we destroy our people, habitat or planet. We think we have no choice.

Terrified by nature's wrath: Forget the gardens, gentle rain and verdant landscapes on the planet (a.k.a. Garden of Eden, earthly paradise, Heaven on Earth). Think sandstorms, tsunamis, forest fires, flooding, lightening strikes, earthquakes, and droughts. Add in predators, parasites, poisonous creatures, viruses and food shortages. Live in fear of powers greater than humans and fates that deserve punishment by the natural elements.

Invent a story that resolves this intense persecution and abandonment with mythical justifications. You may opt for offending local gods or ancestor spirits who hover nearby in the landscape. You may choose the seafaring nation's approach with its dysfunctional pantheon of omnipresent immortals who torment earthlings wherever they may roam. You might prefer a wandering desert tribe's story of the jealous bachelor in the sky taking vengeance on the transgressions of a fallen people. In any case, accept how powerless you are to intervene in the environment and how much your survival is always in jeopardy.

Opposed to nature's distribution plan: Forget those perilous preconceptions and powerless appeasement strategies. Switch to the practice of science and technological advances to control and redirect "poorly planned distributions of natural resources". Think dams, pipelines, deforestation, excavations, stockpiles, mining and earthmoving. Add fighting forest fires, spraying insecticides, fertilizing topsoil, fencing pastures, building sea walls, irrigating arid land, dumping garbage into landfills, burning hydrocarbons, and populating barren landscapes.

Invent a story that justifies these amazing conquests and successful domination strategies. You may glorify scientific progress, cultural advancements or global economic expansion. You may call upon "manifest destiny" or "social Darwinism" to validate the rearrangements. Leave out any indications of over population, over harvesting, resource depletion, surface erosion, habitat collapse or species extinction. Simply accept how evolved, superior and "called upon rule over nature" you really are.

Supporting natural cycles: Forget those self-aggrandizing claims and harmful excesses. See how nature functions in cycles, regenerative processes and phases of growth. Realize how humans disrupt, harm or destroy vast networks of natural balance, interdependency and reciprocal benefits. Take action to: reintroduce essential species, restore sustainable habitats, cleanup trashed landscapes, rescue beached cetaceans, curtail pollution sources, and limit population growth.

Invent a story that adds significance to these efforts. You may revive goddess and pagan spiritualities. You may celebrate scientific progress in the realms of ecology, networks, self organizing complexity and quantum disciplines. You may do as I am here: simply framing these caring actions as nurturing relationships and building trust with landscapes, living creatures and natural processes.

Immersed in nature: Forget heroic efforts to rescue the planet in ways that are "too little too late". Proceed with humility and harmlessness in this abundant life support system. Return to the proverbial garden without worries or control issues. Bask in the amazing exuberance of nature's diversity and the comforting surroundings of organic growth. Be deeply moved with gratitude as it seems we are all one with nature.

Stop relying on a lifetime of ingrained habits, categorical reasoning and preconceived solutions. Welcome the innocence of not knowing what to do, what change is coming and which action is most compatible with the shifting turns of events. Tune into the field of universal intelligence as every perpetually sustainable, indigent culture has always done-- to find food, move out of harms way and settle into "green" lifestyles. Get a sense of timing, direction and pattern from reflective practicing to be one with all living processes.

Tell a similar story as this -- of environmental problems fading away by a shift in consciousness and conduct. Explain how the continued harm became impossible as more of us became connected with the whole. See how the escalating damage could only persist while our relationships with nature were in pain and opinionated opposition. Envision how these evolving stories of humans is as natural as the phases of reproduction for each species or the changing seasons for both hemispheres of the planet.

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