Love of Life can carry us through!
I love the pleasure of good conversation over a cup of fine coffee or tea. Over our brews, a friend and I recently talked about the state of our lives and of the world, about the challenges, risks and opportunities of our times. And what times we do live in!
Take this recent conversation starter from the World Science web page, titled A New Geologic Age—Started By Us:
A radical proposal is gaining ground among geologists: We have entered a new geologic time period on Earth, thanks to mankind’s own activities.
We’ve so drastically changed the landscape through pollution and in other ways, it’s time to acknowledge the new “epoch” is here, a group of geologists writes January 25 in GSA Today, a journal of the Geological Society of America.
The new era would be called the Anthropocene, from the Greek anthropos (man) and ceno (new).
A Christian Science Monitor article on the same story, titled Have Humans Caused the Earth to Enter a New Epoch?, also carries some good conversation material:
Atmospheric chemist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen… pointed out… the “novel biotic, sedimentary, and geochemical change” now being written into the geological record reflects the emergence of human intelligence [Huh?] and technology as a geophysical force.
…this means that “to develop a world-wide accepted strategy leading to sustainability of ecosystems against human stresses will be one of the great future tasks of mankind.”
My coffee sipping friend, with an eye toward positive developments in the world, pointed out all the attention that our need for resilience is getting. And to make the point that I did not believe it to be our resilience that can carry us into the future of our desires, I said:
“Nothing is more resilient than an addiction!”
“What do you mean?”
“Well think about it,” I replied. “Addictions are a ‘bouncing back’ behavior. They are a ‘resiliency pattern,’ a repetitive pattern of returning to form.
“Only one thing is more resilient than an addiction and that is the love of Life. It is that love—that is our wild resiliency.
“And it is that love that can carry us through the transformational challenges of our times. ‘Bouncing back’ resiliency will never carry us forward into the frame of thrive-ability that we require….”
…we must first have a vision of the future sufficiently entrancing that it will sustain us in the transformation of the human project that is now in process. Such an entrancing vision we propose here as the Ecozoic Era, the period when humans would become a mutually beneficial presence on the Earth. (Emphasis mine)
We must go far beyond any transformation of contemporary culture. We must go back to the genetic imperative from which human cultures emerge originally and from which they can never be separated without losing their integrity and their survival capacity. None of our existing cultures can deal with this situation out of its own resources. We must invent, or reinvent, a sustainable human culture by a descent into our pre-rational, our instinctive resources. Our cultural resources have lost their integrity. They cannot be trusted. What is needed is not transcendence but “inscendence,” not the brain but the gene.
Berry here acknowledges the uncomfortable fact that it is our intelligence, our ‘brains,’ that have gotten us into our circumstance, and while he would acknowledge they will be required for our ‘adaptability,’ something more is required from us for our thrivability. I summarize that something else this way:
It is our Love-of-Life that can carry us through!
Finding this requires a dive down and in… deeply, so deeply we are willing to re-member and to re-imagine what it is to be human. And for that, we require intimate contact with the other than human world. Therein lies an emotional and a moral intelligence deeper and older than words themselves.
Update: Listen to the July 18, 2008 Living on Earth interview with Mr. Zalasiewicz, Chairman of the United Kingdom Stratigraphy Commission, on A New Epoch, the Anthropocene.
Resource Note: Honoring All Life: A Practical Guide To Exploring A New Reality, by Shaktari L. Belew, is a highly recommended “comprehensive reference guide” to the shifts in perception required for us to move into the world we would dream into being.
Photo Credits: This photo of the Yellow River came of the World Science web page with the following explanation and credit:
An atlas published by the United Nations in 2005 showed through satellite images how various parts of the world have physically changed in the past two to three decades alone. These images show the mouth of China’s yellow River in 1979 (above) and 2000 (below). A new peninsula in the lower image arises from sediment deposits from the river partly resulting from farming activity, U.N. experts say. (Courtesy U.N. Environment Programme)