Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Most Important Relationship


Life on Earth  is heating up. One effect is to accelerate changes like the melting of glaciers, the destruction of habitats, and the predicted extinction of a million living species, not excluding humans.  The picture of the coming climate Armageddon painted by scientists is not consoling..


As a species we’re facing a challenge that is unavoidable, and each day the future seems to look grimmer and more disorienting. Chaos and disintegration approach on scales unprecedented.  In light of this not too jolly premise, I find myself wondering about the fragility of relationships. 


It struck me that there are three kinds of relationship we all have.  We are in relationship with ourselves; with other human beings; and with the natural world we’re part of. All three are problematic, given the terminal dangers introduced by human activity.


As for relationship to ourselves, many of us manage reasonably well. But many not so well, and problems with ourselves can range from morbid self-loathing to criminal megalomania.


As to how we relate to others, conflict and wars of all kinds are making mountains   of corpses and mangled bodies, flattened houses, blasted churches, hospitals and  schools reduced to rubble, and millions of ruined lives in their wake. 


 As for how we relate to the living natural world we’re a part of—the answer is miserably.  Suicidal, self-destructive, cosmically stupid, to be more exact.  Ever since the Industrial Revolution, humans have managed to create a monster called climate change. We’ve polluted, overheated, and wrecked ecosystems all over the planet.  And this is not a one off event; it’s a process that needs to stop or else it will roast, drown and starve us to death.


Instead of an industrial revolution, we need a revolution in the way we see, understand and experience the world.  The creative center for the entire enterprise revolves around the way we relate to ourselves.   After all, the way we relate to other people must be a function of the way we’re tuned into ourselves.  If we’re not happy with ourselves, relating to other people and the natural world are bound to suffer. The key to the three relationships then is the relationship we have to ourselves.


‘Know yourself,’ was incribed on the pediment of the temple of Apollo. A signpost of ancient Greek wisdom.  Our relationship to ourselves is the primary challenge we are invited to explore.


The relationship to oneself contains the potential for something, to use that seductive word, transformative.  New forms of consciousness, being psychically opened up in radically new ways are possible.


We find ourselves in a space of bewildering relationships. There is our beautiful planet and the sprawling universe. There are other humans, saints and savages we have to contend with. And finally, there is our mother the natural world with all her  powers and mysteries. A mother terribly abused, poisoned, polluted, blasted in air, land, and sea.


Human intelligence has learned to plunder the material Earth as if it were raw material for human consumpton.   Nature is treated as a soulless resource to be exploited in whatever way serves human desires, above all, for profit.  Technology, by appropriating nature spells the death of the sacred. Henceforth all things are for sale.


So here we are, facing an uneasy future, but hope to advance a little, and get to know ourselves. Are there latent powers we possess but don’t know how to mobilize? A large question mark hangs over our most important relationship, which is to ourselves. 


The question we might ask: am I walking about in a trance on a treadmill, oblivious to what lies just below my entrenched surface awareness?  Ask the right questions of yourself, and replies are apt to come.  Of the three relationships we have, the one to ourselves is key.  The greatest challenge but also the most interesting and the most creative.  And it’s the relationship impossible to escape from.


ecoecho said...

Hi Michael: I exceeded the 4,096 word limit in my reply to you - so you can find it on my blog.

Miguel said...

This is the sort of essay that I wish world leaders, industry leaders, and other powerful entities would read and fully assimilate. Sure, many of us may become more mindful of our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with the world we live in and change our ways. However, at this point, it seems to me that any resulting effects would represent just a 'drop in the bucket'.

We need a UNIFIED, global recognition of the climate problem by those in a position to make meaningful changes happen. I thought our nation was on the right track, but given recent supreme court decisions and the sad state of our politics I am afraid any progress we've made will be reversed starting next year. I hope I am wrong, but if I am not, we all better start preparing for the inevitable slow and irreversible destruction of our planet.

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