It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Ecological Food For Thought … The Progress Of Destruction
By Jim Otterstrom / September 2, 2008

A friend once sent me a link to a composite photo of the nighttime lights of North America as seen from space.

She found the photo to be very comforting in the fact that she could see the lights of all the places in America where she had friends.

But I found the photo to have a somewhat opposite effect on my emotions. It caused a discomforting knot in my gut!

I saw the lights as countless gaping holes in the biotic communities of the continent I call home.

The more numerous, and brighter the lights, the bigger the holes in the living diversity of the natural world.

To most people, I suppose, these lights represent progress in the development of humankind.

But, to me, they dramatically illustrate the destructive imbalance between human organisms and our environments.

Where there are lights, there are buildings, shopping malls, sprawling suburbs, monstrous cities, millions of acres of roads slathered in asphalt & concrete, factories, plastic, landfills & waste management facilities, power generation plants, sewage treatment plants, schools, hospitals, prisons, machinery, automobiles, internal combustion engines, wrecking yards, toxic chemicals, pollution, oil fields, corporate headquarters & the seats of governments, police stations, courthouses, military bases and nuclear weapons facilities.

Every second of every day the exponential growth of our human creation lays waste to more of the biosphere as our species trudges forward in its relentless destruction of the planet.

What we’re doing to planet Earth literally mirrors what insects did to the leaf above. We are eating away large bits of our habitat, but, we have no other leaf, or, in our case, planet, to move to when this one is stripped bare.

The results upon the victim are similar to those of a plague of locusts or a rampantly malignant cancerous growth. And, unfortunately, our victim is this magnificent place we call home, the sole source of our sustenance.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Our imaginations are simply boxed-in, blinded by the overwhelming monolithic hierarchical structure of the civilization we were born into.

But things may be changing, as more and more people seem to be realizing that the way we live just doesn’t work, and doesn’t feel good either.

Life on Earth is a vast assemblage of complex organisms, but we’re all evolved from one single-celled common ancestor.

We are one family,

The Family Of Earth.

Our species lays claim to sentience, consciousness, and self-awareness.

So, as I daily witness the continuing degradation and destruction of the biosphere, the loss of diversity, of natural habitat, and the species who live there. I can’t help but sense that these holes in our biotic communities are also metaphors for holes our hearts, for the longing in our souls, our spirit. A longing to be whole, to be complete, to be home. And I believe that some of us are beginning to understand this, and that many more of us feel it subconsciously.

Yes, the future may yet hold a place for humanity, for the surviving descendants of the Agricultural, Industrial, and Petroleum Ages.

The Ages of Empire and World Domination.

Once the heavy burden of this all-consuming civilization is off our backs, perhaps the collective memories of our DNA, our native intuition, will help us remember that there are many ways to live.

And certainly, among those ways, there are some which are sustainable, that would allow our species to live, in much more realistic numbers, for many generations to come.

Nighttime Lights of North America (courtesy of NOAA)

This is not the photo my friend sent several years ago. That one had an all black background. But you get the idea…

Post Script

The leaf in the image at top is from a Hollyhock that’s growing near a faucet in the garden. It caught my eye, and my imagination, for several days before I realized what it reminded me of. I then decided to scan it and was moved to write this post.

Nature, speaking through me, I guess you might say.

Source / Earth Home Garden

The Rag Blog

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1 Response to It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

  1. Jim says:

    Hi Richard,

    It is an honor to see my thoughts posted here at The Rag Blog.

    And I thank you, but I did make some final edits to this piece shortly after you posted it here.

    Sorry about that,



    The Rag Blog is now linked to EHG.

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