Our species has shown a tremendous capacity to understand its environment and develop all sorts of tools to thrive on Earth. Without a doubt, this is one of our greatest achievements.
Yet, this success might have brought one major drawback: because we have been able to overcome many of its challenges, we have lost the sense of how much we are connected to Nature.
We tend to take all our achievements over Nature for granted. For example, we can fly (in planes), we can swim underwater (with scuba diving equipment), or eat tomatoes all year round (thanks to greenhouses and artificial lights and climate). We just seem to forget that all of that is the result of tools and techniques that we have developed, but that are fundamentally linked to Nature providing all the components for us.
What worries me the most is that many people in the industrialized world have lost that connection.
It is simply stunning to read reports from polls among the city youth on food. When asked where meat comes from, they answer: from the supermarket. Many kids just do not realize that milk comes from cows, they do not make the connection between eggs and hens, and they do not even want to think that in order to eat meat, you have to kill an animal, which means lots of blood. No, they live in a world where they only want to consume.
Another absolutely stunning example of that disconnection came across to me on the street: a young mother (I realized her status a bit later) was loading stuff in the back of her car, while the car was running, spitting its amount of nasty fumes in her direction. I thought then: gas is too cheap since you let the engine run while doing something else. And then, there it was! When passing by the rear end of the car, I saw the buggy with the infant inside, next to the mother and just opposite to the exhaust pipe, breathing in his full load of toxic gases. Clearly, that woman has no clue of what a combustion engine produces. Just an isolated case, you may think. Well, recently and with the colder mornings, I can witness the army of those early morning windshields scratchers having their engines running, and filling enthusiastically their lungs with the fumes. Then, no wonder that some people smoke, when it says in bold letters on the package that tobacco kills them.
The funny part of all of this is that I live in a neighbourhood where there are more stores selling all sorts of organic stuff than there are butterflies. Yes, people around here are very environmentally conscious, which, by the way, I have never been able to link so far with the huge amount of SUV’s driving around.
These anecdotes just tell me one thing: we have lost touch with Nature, and I believe more and more that we will not wake up until we get punched in the nose really hard. What does not kill us, we have chosen to ignore. I am not too sure if that makes us stronger, though.
So, what to do to get back in touch with, and more importantly have the proper respect for Nature?
In my opinion, it can only come from education. Our curriculum should include a lot more of activities in which kids have to interact with Nature, and be able to physically experience it. Moreover, this should not be happening in school only. The kids and families should get assignments together as part of the education process, because many parents also need to get the basics taught to them as well. Education is the only voluntary way towards changing our lifestyle. And lifestyle is the key here. We are resisting the change because, let’s face it, our lifestyle in the industrialized world is very comfortable.
Rediscovering agriculture, working on farms, harvesting crops, dealing with farm animals, experiencing seasons and natural cycles, going fishing and hunting, learning on how to make bread, presenting in class full reports of their home energy consumption and energy saving tactics, calculating the carbon balance they produce, are just some examples of education topics that could help us reacting to the total lethargy that has been hitting us over the past few decades. We can preserve only what we know, understand and respect. It is all interconnected. If we do not respect Nature, then how can we respect others? It seems fairly obvious that if we just take from the Earth and do not give back (and on time), the “cookie jar” is going to run empty. In the end, nature is all about balance.
Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.