Humanity has grown disconnected; separated as individuals from the whole. Focused on what individuals can do for themselves, we’ve forgotten the interconnectedness of the earth and all life within it. Deracinated from our relationship with nature, our actions continue to catapult us into the demise of the very planet that brought us into being.
Oblivious consumerism flourishes as the Amazon is deforested. The elite watch their bank accounts overflow as the economy tanks and unemployment skyrockets. Corruption triumphs as ecosystems are treated as a source for commodities.
Unsatisfied by the race, yet we still continue to run. Shackled by addiction to an economy thriving on destruction; as the alarm sounds, we find ourselves looking for an unmarked exit. Held back by preference, we subliminally chose comfort in security over the health and harmony of the planet.
Our unmet human needs, obscured by separation, drive us to continue seeking satisfaction through superficial means. The societal relationship with nature has been vastly neglected and overlooked. The interbeing of Earth has been cast away and written off as a primitive concept.
The western world has considered itself to have evolved beyond the aboriginal ways, yet these indigenous lifestyles were sustainable and reciprocal between human needs and the balance of nature.
Indigenous tribes recognize the interbeing of the earth and how each interconnected part affects the whole. The connection between the forest, water, and life is obvious to these tribes as they live in harmony with the land. They recognize themselves as an extension of nature and see the Earth as a living organism; a concept fringe to the general western paradigm.
Modern science shows us the interconnectedness of a living Earth and how each part affects the whole. Mycelium is a fungus beneath the earth’s surface, forming a web of connections called the mycelial network. The mycelial network serves as an underground communication connection between trees and plants, similar to that of the internet.
Trees and plants are able to communicate and cooperate with one another through the mycelial network and airborne chemicals. They are capable of forming alliances and learning individually and collectively from their environments for the purpose of survival of themselves and their ecosystems.
With this perspective it becomes clear that our separation from nature has shaped the western cultural narrative into a complete misunderstanding of the unity of ecosystems. In contrast, archaic traditions have this perspective of unity fundamentally embedded into their culture. Science is leading us back to the previously perceived “uncivilized” roots of ancient wisdom.
The Overview Effect
When astronauts exit the planet’s atmosphere and look back at Earth, they often experience a cognitive shift called the overview effect. They see the interactivity of the biosphere and come to realize the interconnected unity of the earth as one ecosystem. They see first hand what affects one side of the ecosystem impacts the whole.
A recognition of the earth as being a living entity leads to a realization of the individual self as being a manifestation of the whole. If the Earth becomes sick, all life becomes sick. From space, the man-made boundaries become visible through erosion and the clear-cutting of forests. The detrimental approach of humanity’s separation from nature needs to transition into acting as one species, with one destiny. If we continue down this path of self-destruction, we will not survive.
The overview effect of astronauts and the scientific observations of ecosystems correlate with the indigenous tribes’ archaic understandings. It does not take going to space to experience this cognitive shift. We can come to recognize this interbeing nature on an individual level through science, through philosophy, or even through religion. It does not matter how we come to this realization, as long as we are able to make the shift.
The modern western world holds a general perspective that the individual is separate from the whole. A shift into a perspective of the individual being a manifestation of the whole can be difficult for the western mind to conceptualize, but this concept has been prominent for thousands of years through eastern and shamanic traditions. If we can make the shift into a view that recognizes Earth as a living being, we can begin to understand that it is our severed relationship with nature that is the true core of the environmental crisis.
We can then stimulate the existential question of our role in regenerating and preserving the health and the equilibrium of the planet. We can rebuild an economy that thrives on restoration rather than destruction. The harmony of the Earth begins with a change in the individual. Only then can we live in harmony with the planet.
Charles Eisenstein: Climate – A New Story
Vimeo Documentary: The Overview Effect
Frank White: The Overview Effect