How to Find Mother Nature in the Age of Technology
Originally published on Center for Humans and Nature
Humankind’s ingenuity and drive to develop beyond living merely for survival has brought us to a global society in which we have every convenience, every pleasure, access to everything we want. The world is at our fingertips, literally. Advancements in technology allow us to live longer, to enjoy the abundance of the earth, and to be connected more fully with each other.
The other side of this coin is that we are now subject to the consequences of even the smallest actions of others. We are more vulnerable, less protected, in constant danger that one seemingly insignificant glitch in technology, anywhere in the world, will deprive of us of our basic needs. It has happened in certain geographic areas, and the inevitability is that it will happen globally.
As we progressed in the creation of amazing technological innovations, we began to forget that we are a part of this environment that we call Nature. Our human bodies are made of all the elements of the levels of nature that preceded us — inanimate, vegetative, and animal — thus everything we do affects all of those levels.
In our quest for greater life comfort and ease, we have built, atop Nature’s sustaining template, a technological environment in which we interact with each other and fulfill our desires. In doing so, we have systematically and intentionally broken the very system that sustains us. The simulated system on which we rely depends on man-made technology that is subject to breakage, manipulation and dangerous disruption of the system itself, as well as to being used for harm.
How can we live respectfully with the land and with one another?
The real question is: How do we understand Nature and her laws in order to live respectfully with the land and with one another?
Those who study Nature and advocate for her preservation know a lot about how Nature works through observation. We are aware of her cycles and predictability, her beauty and eternality, her abundance and generosity, her moodiness and strong forces. We can recite certain laws of nature — attraction, polarity, rhythm, relativity, cause and effect, gender/gustation, perpetual transmutation of energy. That’s one list. There are also gravity and electromagnetism, weak and strong reactions. These are physical laws that we consider immutable and that we don’t go against because doing so can cause us harm.
But can everyone recite and understand the more subtle laws of Nature? Interconnection, altruism, balance, harmony, interdependence, unity. These laws are also real and immutable and violating them causes harm. However, the reaction is not immediate, such as if we were to jump off a tall building. They act invisibly and they are cumulative, thus we can act in ways that are out of alignment with them and be oblivious to the harm we are causing.
Mother Nature, however, notices it all. She is a perfectly functioning system, and when even a small disturbance occurs, she feels it and immediately adjusts herself. Our ambitious construction of a technological system was accompanied by a growing greedy belief that we can control Nature, to mold her to fit our desires for self-satisfaction. In service to that arrogance, we have plundered the resources that she generously offers, without giving anything back, and without any understanding of the laws that we constantly and aggressively violate.
Nature Is Speaking to Us
In the same way that what we do affects nature, Her actions disturb us. We are watching Her as She storms, burns, erupts and quakes Herself back to a state of equilibrium. With each natural disaster we come together briefly to bring relief and help to the victims, but it is then treated simply as another news cycle and we happily return to the status of relieved non-victims. Are we learning anything from Nature? The law of cause and effect responds to every ripple in the system. When we harm nature, She responds. When She responds, we come together. The system itself is sending us a strong message regarding how we should relate to each other according to its laws.
Nature’s latest warning has been more intrusive because it is global. A virus has forced all peoples of the world to adopt drastic changes in lifestyles, and has introduced massive unemployment, food shortages, social unrest and the inevitable political maneuverings. Nature has advanced us from tribes and clans to a global community and she is now expecting us to learn that we are all connected and interdependent, that we depend entirely on each other for our survival, so it is in our best interests to care for one another.
She is reminding us who is in control and that only by living according to all of her laws will we survive. The future most likely holds major breakdowns within the worlds of technology and man-made institutions and we will be forced to again rely only on Mother Nature in order to fulfill our basic survival needs. But we will feel helpless, because we depend entirely on each other for food, clothing and shelter and the means for attaining these disappears with the breakdown of the artificial technological environment we have come to depend on. We will have no choice except to listen and conform to Her template of interdependence.
Can We Beat Nature to the Punch?
Educating ourselves about Nature requires learning who we are within the system and what is our role. As the levels of nature emerged and developed over billions of years, each level incorporated everything that is present in the levels below it. And each level was endowed with additional qualities and forces. Humans are, in essence, animals dressed in clothing. We have yet to understand that there is a level beyond our beastly natures toward which we must aim if we are to complete ourselves — the level of Nature.
The inanimate, vegetative and animal levels operate instinctively, and in the interactions among and between them, create the template for our interactions with each other. For example, nowhere in Nature, except humanity, will you see any entity take more from the system than is needed for survival and sustenance.
The technological world can be an asset if we understand its proper use. For instance, Artificial Intelligence will take over many of our jobs. So what then becomes of us? We are then free to do what only humans can do — to choose to develop positive and connecting relationships toward each other. We build within ourselves the attitude that Nature is pushing on us, that we are totally interconnected and interdependent. Out of that realization, and the desire to utilize our connections with each other, we will build a new world.
Priorities will be determined according to what serves the common good. The economic system will care for everyone equally. All of our institutions will be built to include both personal responsibility and mutual care and concern. We will begin to elect those who hold these values. Technological development will be aimed at improving our mutual connections and our inner value of love of others will not allow it to be used for harm.
The question is: Will we be able to internalize this and begin to build the new world ourselves? Or will we wait until Nature forces us to do so? Because She will, systematically and inexorably. I personally think that by sending us a highly contagious virus instead of a nuclear exchange has been a gentle reminder. Nature, however, has shown us how stern She can become if we do not comprehend what She is telling us.
There is nothing higher than a world that works for everyone according to the laws of Nature. Only humanity has the ability to rise to that higher state. Will we do it now, or wait until Nature convinces us? We get to choose.