Protecting Our Shared Home

High altitude drone image showing the curve of the earth, rivers, and clouds in the atmosphere

Our rational conscious mind can process 40 bits of information per second. Our intuitive subconscious mind can process 11 million. Yet our western culture increasingly focuses on rationality and dismisses our capacity for intuitive wisdom, in our education, our cultural ways of seeing things, and our choice of policies in dealing with our climate crisis.

We need to change that. By focusing disproportionately on the rational, we miss the essential information and perspectives available to us when we listen to our intuition—not to mention missing much of the richness and meaning of life. Tuning into nature opens windows to the world. Whole-systems thinking engages the capacity of our entire brain and helps us grasp the larger cycles and interacting feedback loops of how nature works. For example, allowing the cutting of the Amazon rainforest for beef cattle and servicing the interest on national debt is directly related to changes in the Earth’s water cycles and increasing drought patterns. Disconnection limits our understanding and we don’t fully grasp the consequences of cutting down the rainforest. That awareness comes only from an intuitive understanding of interconnectedness now clarified by excellent science.

There are many ways of accessing our intuitive wisdom, from the rich perspectives of Indigenous peoples, to meditation and mindfulness practices, to time in nature and the use of storytelling as an ancient means of sharing wisdom indigenous to us all. Taking time for these practices allows our sense of connection with other living beings to surface from the deep recesses of our mind.

While our sense of urgency is clearly necessary and useful, the energy of it must be carefully managed and not allowed to cause desperation or rush us to ill-considered solutions. We need to allow ourselves the time to think deeply and truly. Then we can come to solutions that are practical in the sense that they work in the service of all Life. Frenetic energy disconnects us from our Earth and our innate wisdom. As Indigneous elder Ilarion Merculieff notes, “With more than two hundred tribes in Alaska, one thing that is very distinct in all of them is that they walk, talk and act slowly. They know what they are doing. We call it the Earth-based pace. They’re slowing down to move at the rate of hearing Mother Earth. Going faster disconnects us from our relationship to Mother Earth.”[1]

Native wisdom includes an awareness that it is in relationship to fellow humans and to all living beings that we will find solutions to our problems, rather than disconnection and the disruption that causes. As Tahnee Henningsen, a young native woman notes, this means that “we are not powerless in this fight.” She further comments that we have everything we need to deal with this crisis already within us.

Life is an incredible gift to be savored, with decisions arising from a deeply felt and thoughtful connection with Life. Indigenous culture-bearer Greg Castro offers, “We need to go out in the morning and sing the sun up—that’s what it’s going to take—some spiritual equivalent of that.”[2] This may seem silly from a rational perspective, but it holds a profound innate wisdom because in the process of singing we are putting ourselves in intimate connection with the rhythms of Nature, acknowledging and honoring them. And from there, we naturally live a life in harmony with Her.

[1] We are the Middle of Forever by Dahr Jamail and Stan Rushworth

[2] As quoted by Dr. Darryl Babe WIlson in We are the Middle of Forever by Dahr Jamail and Stan Rushworth

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