Light Through the Trees
— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —
“We long for a better world for everybody, not only humans but for all life,” says Nancy Roof in this conversation, “but to get there we need to be much more conscious about what we are doing.”
As editor of Kosmos Journal, Nancy’s goal is to foster global transformation by increasing our capacity to think at a higher level so we can make better decisions, spiritually and environmentally. Part of this is thinking in a larger frame of reference than we usually do, including more information than our immediate human focus and needs, and understanding that all our actions have consequences.
When I go out to a restaurant now, it is a double-edged experience. It is so enjoyable to go and to see people out, chatting, enjoying themselves and relaxing. Such a “normal,” taken-for-granted scene. Of course we can just go out for a meal if we want to. Of course there will be an expansive menu to select from, all calculated to delight our palates. Yes, lots of plates will go back with wasted food. All “normal.”
When Nancy says we need to be much more conscious about what we are doing, food is a good place to start. What resources does it take for each of us to transport ourselves to the restaurant? To have a building to go to, built on what was once living land, now heated and lighted for our comfort? Where did the material come from for the comfortable tables and chairs? Or the adequate and heated water to keep things clean? Piped from where? Material for the pipes from where? The water released to where? Can other living beings use it where it will be released?
Where did the food come from? How did it get to the kitchen where it was prepared? How was it wrapped? In toxic plastic? Trucked in by massive vehicles that also took materials from the Earth, spewing toxic fumes into the air from tires and fuel and asphalt, on millions of miles of roads that now cover the Earth, taking fertile land and space from other life? Is it packaged in cardboard from living trees that once supported whole families of beings? How was it grown? With other life in mind, sharing the land, or just through wholesale destruction and poisoning of anything except the crops to be sold? Land taken from other species that might also need it to survive and raise their families? As I watch the plates of leftover food taken away I think of this. Of the countless instances of pain and tragedy we cause without being aware of it.
None of this used to be a problem. Things were on a smaller scale and we didn’t have the technology to support large scale destruction. We didn’t have to think of these things. Now we do. It is urgent that we wake up to the systems that are in place that serve no living beings well. To stop taking things for granted. To begin to question. To use our brilliant brains to come up with better solutions, in the service of all life. It is an opportunity to grow as a species.
As Nancy notes, “Every institute that we’ve created has been based on a materialistic culture and world view. But now that’s no longer sustainable. If you look at each institution, from economic to politics to agriculture to education, all of them have come into a state of paralysis that we see in everyday governance. Paralysis because the old world views and way of doing things no longer work. And when that happens on a systematic level, transformation is the only answer. Any way you look at it, we are at the end of an era. Either we regress and die, or we transform to a higher level with many of the spiritual values that have long been espoused but not lived by humanity in terms of cooperation, love, respect, kindness, inclusiveness, caring. All of those values should be uppermost in every institution. Economics should not be about finances and money – it should be about sharing. Governance should not be about the elite dominating what we are doing, but should be about the welfare of all the public, to create this new civilization based on spiritual values.”
Gratitude and appreciation for what we have make us much more careful of what we use and waste, and eases the craving for ever more while never being satisfied. Not that we shouldn’t enjoy amenities. The irony is that if we treat the food with respect, we will enjoy it and the whole experience more; it will sustain our souls as well as our body; it will connect us to the larger picture of life. With each bite we are taking other life forms into our body. The fried crayfish tails that helped propel the animal through the water of its home, becomes our flesh. The leaves of the lettuce reaching for the sun lends its minerals to our bones.
Also, gratitude enhances our immune systems. Our current systems serve nobody well.
Nancy’s work is to inform people about the possibilities for a different future and what is already happening at the margins of reality to create this new civilization based on spiritual values. From the perspective of decades of observation, she says the progress of people awakening to the need for transformation is huge. “We are moving into a more developed consciousness, knowing that our potential is so much greater than what we’re living today. We have such guidance from other dimensions of reality. It’s not just this physical reality we’re living in. We’re living in a much more expansive universe of potentials that we haven’t even realized yet.” She believes it is important and exciting to participate in the historical movement of transforming to a new civilization. I agree. And each of us has a unique part to play.
At the end of the conversation she observes, “as things get worse and darker, there is more light that is shining – somehow these two things go together.” So it is up to each of us to work on the side of the light.
We can help each other in this. We can help each other awaken.
Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.