Mankind, an element of the natural world.

April 7, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Doug Skeates

Many in society assume that mankind is the centre of the world.  Other aspects are unrelated factors affecting human life.  In contrast aboriginal people see themselves as part of the whole along with physical characteristics of the planet.  The right honorable Stan MacKay, ex moderator of the United Church of Canada, in an article in Eco-theology, Voices from South and North (David Hallman, edit. 2009) noted that features such as rocks, trees and animals are  considered as representing the souls of past elders, hence members of the family and together being basic elements of the whole of life.

The difference in ideology is particularly apparent in the management of resources.  The aboriginal view is wholistic vs the profit-oriented materialism of non-aboriginal, urban based society.  The importance of ecological well-being of the earth’s surface is paramount to all life. Humans, like all other aspects of nature, are dependent on the productivity of the world’s resource base.  Each element, ie, air, water and land, are essential components of nature.  People are dependent on the air they breathe and consumption of food and water.

Those who live in close proximity to the land base have shown the importance of a wholistic approach to land management.   Community ecosystems are essential to land-based folk throughout the world and are becoming ever more obvious as the planet’s resource base is abused by those living in profit-oriented societies.  Managing resources wisely in order to meet the needs of life must be accomplished without overusing nature’s ability to maintain ecological equilibrium.  Many aboriginal communities have demonstrated the planet’s potential to achieve a comprehensive way of life.

The current world-wide concern for global warming is indicative of a change of attitude taking place.  Many world leaders report a move from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, ones with less polluting emissions in the atmosphere, the primary cause of climate change.  The shift may be due more to reduction of costs than to regulations but also in part to concerns for regional climatic disasters.  Increasing world temperature has meant severe drought, massive wildfires, floods and rising ocean levels.  Such disruptions are resulting in extensive loss of life as well as destruction of whole communities and crops needed to sustain human life.

Land and oceans are basic to societal productivity for meeting life’s needs.  The planet’s ecology is particularly essential for human well-being.  Establishment of natural ecosystems is proving essential for people to achieve life and protection of the world’s environment.  Many leaders have pledged rehabilitation of land and ocean resources as elements to achieve their countries’ goals for enhancing and protecting global imbalances.  The planting of trees is seen by many as a means to correct the natural balance of the world’s resource base.  Forest ecosystems are recognized as protecting and revitalizing food and water supply as well as contributing to normal global temperature.

With rebuilding of the planet’s natural resource base it has been shown that wide ranges of vegetation, soil components and environmental conditions together govern levels of productivity.  A text ‘Finding The Mother Tree’ (Suzanne Simard, 2021) emphasizes the importance of cooperative relationship between elements of growth contributing to development of ecosystems.  The authors’ quote of Rachel Carson, (Silent Spring, 1962) “But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitability a war against himself”,  indicates where society stands today after many years of mismanagement of resources.  Quoting the Hopi belief from Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman, “Water is sacred, air is sacred. Over 95% of human bodies is water. Trees breathe what we exhale, and we need what the tree exhales…..  we are one family”. 

Simard’s book is a strong reminder of the importance of wholeness in society.  Plants cooperate with one another providing for mutual needs.  Similarly, the interactions between all aspects of nature are essential for human life. Nature illustrates the wholeness and interrelationship both to the well-being of plants as well as human life.

The question for mankind is not just preservation of the world’s resources needed by present and future generations.  It is as much more about how the range of elements in the environment working together might save humankind.

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