Biosphere Earth — 6, The Forgotten Memory
(Everything is Relationships)
This blog is part of a series on Biosphere Earth.
To review other posts, please visit the TOC.
Here is part 6:
Another lesson we’re learning from Indigenous Peoples is this thing we forgot: we rely on other living things. It’s fairly acceptable to say that Indigenous cosmologies around the world are built on recognition of the fact that as an animal each person on Earth is directly related to, and directly dependent on, other living things.
This is not a hard concept to grasp for most people. And it’s science. The awareness can be triggered by simply understanding that life, the experience of existing, is mostly about relationships — in every regard. Things that can’t be measured.
We of the developed world talk a lot about cause and effect and mathematical approaches to thinking about life. “1+1 = 2. How much is a tree worth? How fast can i produce a side of beef and what can i sell it for?” All the way up to, “How much are Earth’s ecosystem services worth, oxygen & etc.?”
Is society more valuable than its life support system?
Is money more valuable than life?
Math and money are inadequate tools for assessing the total value of our life experiences and planetary life-support system. How can math and money possibly value that which invented and sustains them? I mean, as another example, is anyone putting a value on thinking?
Here’s what’s happening.
Life, biospherically, is relationships. Cycles and circles and interactions. Math can measure some of the quantities, outputs and interactions inside of the biosphere, particularly those that affect our economy, but ultimately living and being are qualitative, relational experiences.
The quality of interactions you have with yourself and all others, inside various sets of conditions, such as temperature and resource supply—is what each of us spends most of our time and energy on, and it trumps computation. Emotionally, physically, financially, we depend on our relationships with other organisms to live.
If you have a hard time relating to the concept that “Everything is Relationships” (subtitle of this blog) i think the fastest way to get there is to look at another living thing and how it responds to you.
Pets, plants, wild animals, insects… There’s intelligent non-human life everywhere. You can have a relationship with your cat, your pet fish, all kinds of creatures. Pay attention to what they are doing in your presence because in general, whether it’s a plant or an insect like this little leaf hopper on my wife’s hand, other life is not there to hurt you.
Other creatures are actually kind of curious about you and prefer to have a good relationship with you. I see in the news clickbait headlines about animal attacks. This is a mis-characterization of the entire history of life on Earth. Other creatures are scared of you, you know, for good reason. And trying to survive. But like humans, other creatures rarely attack for no reason. End of story.
Paying attention to how other life forms respond to you and how they try to communicate with you is the fastest way to recognize the interrelational nature of existence itself.
This idea — of total connectedness among living things, manifests itself throughout the whole system, Biosphere Earth.
More tomorrow! Thanks
- All citations for the research referenced in this blog can be found in the most recent draft of my forthcoming paper, “Biosphere Earth = all GDPs + all lives.”
Read the previous blog: Care & Maintenance.