For several hundred years, people have believed that the earth, and everything on it was here for our use. If humans are the highest form of life, why not use (and abuse) lesser forms? This view was reinforced by the common understanding of Genesis 1. “God said, ‘…fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over … every living thing that moves over the earth.” Biblical scholars now teach that a more accurate translation for “dominion” is “stewardship.”
When people were hunter/gatherers, or farmers, it was easy to see the cycles of life acting within all living things. The industrial revolution changed this worldview, with people deciding how to best use (mine or manufacture) massive amounts of ‘things.’ They wanted to get the most ‘bang for their buck.’ Soil, sand, rock, and water were seen in terms of how they could be used, rather than being appreciated for the gifts that they are.
Around 400 BCE, Plato wrote, “The universe is a single living creature that contains all living creatures within it.” People had shared this understanding for thousands of years. Today, science has revealed that it is actually true! Quantum physics (the study of the smallest atomic and subatomic waves and particles) shows that All of creation, and the universe itself, shares life and varying degrees of consciousness.
We realize now that the universe communicates with itself instantly across enormous distances. Energy, which is invisible, makes up 96% of the universe, while everything else that we can see: trees, people, animals and galaxies, comprise only 4% of what is out there. The universe is constantly abuzz with energy! At every moment, the universe is expanding, and continuing to grow.
One of the most amazing realizations is that Every Single Thing; from atoms to grass to tigers, share some level of consciousness! All things have a kind of self-organizing capacity. Photons (parts of an atom) change in relation to other photons, and that’s about the smallest particle we can find. Max Planck, the developer of quantum theory, states that all created matter comes from consciousness (which we could call ‘God’), and all matter shares some form of consciousness. (Max Planck The Observer, 1931)
We know that Native American spirituality emphasizes the inter-connectedness of all things in the great web of life. This is a fundamental truth of most world faiths. Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus all share awe at the marvelous power and interdependency of life.
When we think that we are living beings trudging along with other living beings on a dead planet, it is easy to exploit the earth for our own personal gain. That is what has gotten us into so much trouble.
But when we know that we share life and are in relationship with all the rest of creation, that is a whole different story! If we are in relationship with other conscious beings, then we will want to care for and appreciate all these amazing lifeforms! If a viewpoint of ‘using things’ has led us into global crises, a world view of respect for infinite expressions of life would lead us into caring relationships.
How do you view the world? New discoveries in science illuminate truths that we have always known. We, (all life forms – even those we used to think of as inanimate) are all connected. Even more than that, we are related. We can change our world view and enjoy our ‘relatives.’ And in doing so, we will change the world! That’s Good News, for a Good New Year!
“Be the change you want to see in the world!” - Ghandi
Happy Connected, Relational New Year!