The State Of The World
I don’t often get philosophical here. I usually reserve those thoughts for my private journal, but a conversation with a friend has inspired me to share here this morning.
We were talking about the Las Vegas shooting, the fact that the governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency over an upcoming speaker, the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, the young man at Berkeley who endures threats of violence simply because he is of a different political mindset than most of his classmates, and the increasingly high number of violent threats against strangers of differing opinions on-line — heavy topics for a friendly Monday chat, but these recent events bothered both of us.
My friend is a very religious woman, who really, truly, and sincerely believes these events, along with the recent cluster of storms, volcano eruptions, and earthquakes around the world are all signs of the end times as described in the Bible. She believes God is fulfilling His will, and His promises and there is nothing we can do to make our society a better place, except pray and get square with God. Her way of making things better is to try to bring everyone she knows around to her religion’s idea of God and Jesus.
I respect her for the conviction of her beliefs, and she respects me for mine. We have some pretty interesting conversations even though we disagree on a lot of things.
So, while we were talking, she asked me what I thought the answer was. (Okay… truth be told, her words were more like, “If you don’t believe these are the End Times then how do you explain the pure Evil in the world?”)
Honestly, it was something I thought I had never considered. Have you ever learned about what you think by listening to yourself talk, or reading what you’ve written? (My writer friends know exactly what I mean.)
The short version of my comments to her boiled down to — Removal from the Natural World.
What do I mean? Humans (and remember, I’m speaking in generalities here) have forgotten that we are *part* of the natural world. We are not above nature, we can’t beat or control nature, no matter how much we try. Nature WILL win out, because well…..it’s nature. Humans have completely forgotten that we are animals on this planet, just like dogs, cats, elephants, dolphins, etc. Sure, we are exceptionally intelligent animals. We are technologically advanced animals. We are self-aware animals. And, our self-awareness, intelligence and technology make us different from the other animal species on Earth. But, we have more in common with the other animals than separates us.
Let me explain what I mean by “Nature.” In this case I mean the forces that control the natural world. My friend, and many others, call these forces God. Personally, I refer to them as Spirit or the Universe, or Energy. But, regardless of what you call it, they are all the same thing.
Let me explain: Physics has shown that there is energy in everything. Physics has also shown that the energies in one thing work with each other, and against each other within itself and other things. In other words, energy interacts. We also know that the amount of “Stuff” in the universe never changes. Energy may become matter, and matter may become energy, but the total amount, combined, never changes. Physicists study, among other things, how and why these forces and energies interact.
What scientists may call unexplained forces of the Universe many other people call God, Spirit, Universe, Goddess, forces of nature, etc. There are many names, but I believe we are all talking about the same thing.
Modern humans (again, I am speaking in general terms), have taken a path to overcome and improve upon nature. Think about it, we look for technological methods to do accomplish natural tasks “better” than nature does them.
- We seed clouds to “encourage rain” or reduce fog,
- We use chemicals to kill bugs on crops,
- We change the genes of plants intended as food with the intention of making the food taste better or increase the amount of food grown from one crop.
- Humans use man-made chemicals to heal the body and have created chemical formulas to intentionally alter the human immune system
- Scientists have altered the genes of animals to make them grow faster, produce more offspring, and even create foreign substances
- We’ve developed synthetic hormones to make feed animals grow faster and bigger so they provide more food for humans.
- We create synthetic materials which we use to create clothes, non-stick coatings, and even food additives.
- We’ve developed artificial ways to “create” life (think cloning)
This is, obviously, a very short list, but I could go on for pages listing the things ways humans have attempted to “improve” upon nature.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I enjoy my technology. I like my electricity, running water and stove I’m probably way more attached to my computer than is good for me.
But.. we have to realize that our technology, in all its forms, has consequences.
Again.. physics teaches “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
In our attempts to “improve upon the natural world” we have created problems for ourselves. Pollution, artificial changes in the Earth’s crust, artificial changes in the molecules in our air. We’ve caused other animal species to experience genetic changes which make it difficult to for that species to survive in its natural environment, we’ve created DNA changes in plants that causes a previous food source to be toxic to a large number of humans.
And we’ve created detrimental changes in our own DNA.
Human technology, in the form of the Internet and computers, has brought us together and made the world smaller, and can be a good thing.
But, it has also made us less likely to interact with each other and made us less able (willing, maybe) to to empathize with other humans. Modern humans walk around attached to their devices and only interact with each other when absolutely necessary. (again, I’m generalizing).
Traditionally, humans are social animals. Ancient humans lived in family groups and groups often banded together for a common cause, such as hunting a particularly large animal. Today, our emotional development, and health depends on interaction with other humans. So, what happens when normal human interaction is altered from what nature intended?
Our dependence on technology is causing life shortening, and life injuring changes in every area of our well-being.
One simple example is the human reliance on automobiles. The human body was designed to move frequently, and our reliance on cars to get from one point to another is hurting our health. Sure, it’s faster and easier to drive to the grocery store to pick up what you need. But, it would certainly be a healthier and more natural choice to walk to the grocery store and carry the purchased items back home.
Even simple inventions, like the chair, have a negative impact on our health and well-being. Research has shown that sitting in one place for more than a few minutes has negative consequences on our health. And yet, millions of people around the world sit in a chair, usually in front of their computer, for 8 hours or more each day.
Around the world, the number of people experiencing depression, anxiety, mental illness, difficulties with memory, thinking and attention, and emotional dysfunction is growing. Sure it could be that our methods of diagnosing these conditions are better than in the past, but that only explains a small percentage of the growth. The larger percentage of growth in these conditions comes from new cases.
So, the question that follows is WHY? What is *causing* these changes?
And the simple answer, the only logical answer is that some of our technology, along with our disconnection from the natural world (aka God) is damaging our mental health in the same way it’s damaging our physical health, the health of other species, and the health of the water and air on Earth.
The answer simple answer twofold.
First — take a hard, and long look at the chemicals we use on our food and in our environment, to look at the things we put in and on our bodies, to evaluate the foods we eat and avoid unnatural food additives, and unnatural growing methods.
Second –(and I believe most important) — Stop believing and acting like we are separate from the natural world. Humans need to remember that we are *Part* of nature. We are governed by the same natural laws of the universe as plants, other animals, mountains, planets and even the sun that gives us heat and light. Universal laws are just that– universal, and no matter how smart we get, or how advanced our technology becomes we can NOT “out smart” Nature/Spirit/God… It would benefit us as a species to re-learn to respect and honor the nature around us and to re-learn how to work WITH nature, instead of against like we’ve been doing.
Why do I consider reconnecting with Nature/God/Spirit… the most important part of the solution? Because if a person is connected to the energies of the universe, when you focus on learning how to work WITH those energies, and how to follow the laws of the universe, then you are less likely to believe you can improve upon nature.
Nature is.. nature. It’s perfect. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be. We can’t improve upon natural perfection.