We are living in very interesting times and a short sojourn around our world seems to show us chaos, strife and looming disasters. In the circumstances, it is easy for us to lose hope and direction.
It is equally obvious that our way of life in so many ways is not sustainable. We have built our world on a foundation that is non-sustainable, then obviously the end product will equally be non-sustainable. So we need some drastic changes; and yet who are we going to look to for the wisdom and clarity to guide us to make good choices?
To us the answers lie in Nature. Many of our problems stem from how we have moved away from nature so much and in our apparent arrogance have seen ourselves as superior to the natural world we inhabit. We often hear advice to people struggling to deal with the world we have created to take a walk in nature, to revive us for further struggle. Would it not be better to build our world guided by nature? For nature as well as our own nature has the most amazing intelligence.
“Indigenous people had known this for thousands of years, from living in the forest – their precious home – and learning from all living things, respecting them as equal partners. The word ‘equal’ is where Western philosophy stumbles. It maintains that we are superior, having dominion over all that is nature.”
So writes Dr Suzanne Simard in ‘Finding the Mother Tree’, in which she describes her ecological discovery that, “As the forest ages, the biggest trees become the hubs – the Mother Trees. The Mother Trees not only send carbon to help support their mycorrhizal fungal symbionts, they enhance the health of their kin. And not only their kin, but strangers too, and other species, promoting the diversity of the community.”
Dr. Simard’s meticulous experiments in the forests of British Columbia have proved that trees and plants create a tapestry of underground mychorrhizal communication networks that sustain a successful and diverse society. Learning from nature, she contends, could provide a blueprint for every aspect of our lives.
“This kind of transformative thinking is what will save us. It is a philosophy of treating the world’s creatures, its gifts, as of equal importance to us. This begins by recognising that trees and plants have agency. They perceive, relate, and communicate; they exercise various behaviours. They cooperate, make decisions, learn and remember – qualities we normally ascribe to sentience, wisdom, intelligence.
By noting how trees, animals and even fungi – any and all nonhuman species – have this agency, we can acknowledge that they deserve as much regard as we accord ourselves.
Mistreatment of one species is mistreatment of all. The rest of the planet has been waiting patiently for us to figure this out.”
For how much longer will we test Nature’s patience?
Jeff and Sue