Nature And World Soul

Painting by William Haskell

“There’s a revolution that needs to happen and it starts from inside each one of us. We need to wake up and fall in love with Earth. We’ve been homo sapiens for a long time. Now it’s time to become homo conscious. Our love and admiration for the Earth has the power to unite us and remove all boundaries, separation and discrimination. Centuries of individualism and competition have brought about tremendous destruction and alienation. We need to re-establish true communication–true communion–with ourselves, with the Earth, and with one another, as children of the same mother. We need more than new technology to protect the planet. We need real community and co-operation.
. . .
Once we can accept the impermanence of our civilization with peace, we will be liberated from our fear. Only then will we have the strength, awakening and love we need to bring us together. Cherishing our precious Earth–falling in love with the Earth–is not an obligation. It is a matter of personal and collective happiness and survival.”

Falling in Love with Mother Earth, Thich Nhat Hanh


“Children recognize this nurturance and instruction offered by nature. According to the observations of the brilliant pioneer of ecology Edith Cobb, the imagination of children depends wholly on this contact with the environment.[95] Imagination does not grow all by itself in the household, or even out of imaginative tales told by parents. Children are ‘by nature’ at home in the world; the world invites them to grow down and take part.

— James Hillman

I grew up in the country. I never enjoyed living in cities like New York or Paris as much as I wanted to. I only tried because all my literary and artistic heroes of the time had done so. I had to apply a kind of Goldilocks method over the years until I found just the right size place. I need to see trees and the stars at night. I prefer to see fewer people too, frankly. I didn’t know about writers like Wendell Berry then. That might have made a difference. In any case, there aren’t very many examples like that and I also passed the age of imitation forty years ago. I have to make my own mistakes.

My parents had the right idea, to raise us in the country with horses, cows and a menagerie of pets. The small Texas town we lived near has been overrun with development now. It’s no longer “the country.” Thirty miles from Austin turned out to be too close. The traffic has become impossible.

“Highest and best use” is the developer’s mantra. We see nature as a “resource” that can be converted into dollars. It’s strange to not be able to visit where you grew up because it no longer exists.

We live in a culture that has yet to discover its obligation to care for all life, not just to refrain from poisoning it but to actually love it and help it thrive. There have been many societies that have consciously done so but we imagine they were primitive, “animistic.”

American society doesn’t believe in fanciful ideas like World Soul. We are alive and can feel pain but not only do animals not have this ability, people of color are less able to feel pain than we whites are. My question is, can such a stupid culture survive or will it inevitably crash and burn?

That’s a rhetorical question. We know the answer.

Our culture can blind us in ways we don’t expect. Once we have been blinded it’s very difficult to get our sight back. Children need to be introduced to the natural world and to learn to love it.

If not, they may grow up to destroy it.

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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