Roots, Reconciliation and Renewal

Roots, pathway, the new pursuit, renewal, reconciliation“Human health is a sub-system of the Earth health. You cannot have well humans on a sick planet. You cannot have a viable human economy by destroying the Earth economy.” ~ Thomas Berry

These last few weeks I have found myself tuned into the world around me more than ever. Part introspection; part retrospection; part back-of-the-envelope ethnography of the culture around me. Observing. Reflecting. Contemplating. Maybe it’s an unconscious coping mechanism for working through thinly spread bandwidth.

The problems seem so big; the situations so dire; the solutions so complex they are difficult to visualize ever transpiring. Environmental degradation; social erosion; economic collapse. We are walking the edge. Yet, I question how many are truly aware of this. How many can rise above what’s going on right before their eyes — to shift their perspective on the world — to see the big picture. Perhaps some do and choose to turn away. Or perhaps it is the bliss of simple ignorance that keeps us from taking a stand for justice, peace and love of all.

Returning to Our Roots

A few weeks back our family watched a National Geographic special about the human ‘family tree’. It is the story of one scientist’s quest understand the genetic and geographic roots of our species. Through DNA analysis and the identification of gene markers that have been passed from generation to generation over tens of thousands of years, he has been able to trace the migration of homo sapiens out of central Africa and into the rest of the world. It is a beautiful example of using data to uncover the annals of our human experience and history.

The most amazing take-away though is that ALL humans are 99.9% the same, genetically speaking. Even things like our modern-day categorization of ‘race’ holds no water from a genetic point of view. At the chromosomal level there are no differences between humans. We are ONE species. It is only through the human constructs of things such as culture, religion, politics and the proliferation of dogma, ideologies and a whole host of other ‘-isms’ that humans have created the rifts that set us apart and drive so many of the ills that plague us now.

Departing from the NG special, we can go further with this: We are just one species among millions on this precious little planet. Each one a thread that is woven together to make this amazing and beautiful tapestry of bio-diversity that over billions of years has found a way to live in balance and harmony with each other and the resources that the Earth so willingly provides.

Reconciling the Rifts

While many would think otherwise, humans are not separate from or above Nature’s fabric of life; it is not a thing to adorn ourselves with, taking selfishly at will with no regard for this long-established balance and harmony. Yet, we have fallen from these roots in our quest for so-called gain, power and material prosperity. Natural resources have become nothing more than commodities to be bought, sold and traded. In the eyes of many, the Earth has become the ultimate Walmart of sorts — a planetary-sized store of stuff to be gobbled up Black Friday style.

When you take a step back, it is sad to think that over thousands of years so many have fallen away from our roots of oneness and balance. Further, it is only in the last several generations that the pace of this fall has quickened exponentially, a casualty of the Industrial Age in a way. Still, the Throwaway Culture of Convenience rolls on unchecked and as strong as ever.

If we are to change, I believe that the first step is a deep and profound reconciliation with ourselves and the planet that we call Home. We must acknowledge this oneness as a species and with Nature. We must acknowledge the responsibility we all hold to sustain all life in the perpetual balance and harmony that the Earth set in motion billions of years ago. We must place Love and Peace above Greed and Gain, thinking about the long-term prosperity of ALL life. As Thomas Berry puts it, we must plan for the planet.

The Path of Renewal

Amidst the direness of all that surrounds us, there is hope. There is change taking place. Seeds of renewal are being planted everywhere and being nurtured to bear the fruit of environmental and social justice and prosperity.

Thomas Berry calls it The Great Work. Joanna Macy calls it The Great Turning. David Korten calls it The New Economy. Arne Naess calls it a philosophy of Deep Ecology. Humbly, I add my own moniker to this growing list of change names: The Rise of Eco-Being.

In the grand scheme of things, names don’t matter. What matters is that we all recognize the reasons why this change must happen and willingly accept some role in bringing it about. We all have a roll to play in something this big.

It is a return to community, both local and global. It is a return to mindful consumption and respect for the gifts that the Earth provides. It is a witnessing to the interbeing of all Life. It is a return to the essence — the universalism — of our spiritual natures. It is an embracing of simple truths and simple joys. It is a renunciation of the selfishness and the return of selfless compassion and care-taking.

Each one of us is a Trailblazer here, taking steps to push the path forward, removing obstacles and building bridges. In my mind, blazing this path relies on three things: 1) Changing our own lives and leading by example; 2) Connecting with others blazing the path to form community (both online and off); and 3) Changing the man-made systems whose designs have fueled the degradation in the first place.

We can do it. We have to. Now.

Learn. Change. Connect.

Plan for the planet.

Be well,

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please take a moment to share it. While you’re here you might also enjoy these other posts:

[image: Just Plain Curt]

6 Responses to “Roots, Reconciliation and Renewal”
  1. Andrea says:

    Indeed, humanity’s ability to think itself superior to other species is saddening. I’m also concerned that so many of us have difficulty remembering that within our species, we all deserve the same quality of life. It’s not just between believers of different religions or residents of different countries that there are rifts: two people with the exact same demographics can still spend a lot of time, energy, and money striving to be better than the other, believing more is owed to them than anyone else. How do we overcome such selfish and strong convictions?

  2. Bill Gerlach says:

    Andrea // That is a very difficult question to answer. Where to begin? Perhaps the first step (of many) is to simply do something for someone else — once a day, once a week. Plant a seed of selflessness and nurture it with simple (and random!) acts of kindness and humility. Put others before ourselves once in a while to feel what it feels like; to see what a smile so genuinely given from another person looks like and to have it make a lasting imprint on our heart. From there, once we can change ourselves, we can help to pay it forward, helping to lead others by our simple actions. We can also begin to practice mindful consumption to get a better sense of the interconnectedness — the interbeing — of all things that call this planet home.

    What do you think is the first step?

  3. Nikki Star says:

    Just discovered your blog. Absorbing it all. Thanks for this post!


  4. Bill Gerlach says:

    Hi Nikki // Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate it. Just checking out strippedcanvas now.

  5. Your thoughts run so deep, Bill! I am feeling a sense of disenchantment of late. It’s good, an impetus to turn within and to explore and examine as you have done so beautifully in this article. I don’t think people generally have a clue of the danger we are in. But as you express so beautifully, we can all lead by example. Thank you for your big heart and clear mind.

  6. Bill Gerlach says:

    Hi Sandra // So sorry for the delay in responding. I think we all sway like a pendulum some times — especially on big, complex and potentially life-altering things like this. I find myself feeling so overwhelmed at times at what is before us that walking away seems the only thing to do. But then I feel drawn to some feeling deep inside that says, “You have to care. You have to do what you can.” Perhaps this is part of The Great Turning, as Joanna Macy calls it — that tug on our inner core that beckons us to be aware and to act on that awareness.

    I hope all is well. Thanks so much for taking time to share. It means a lot. Be well!