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Posts Tagged ‘biophilia’

“Sacred, L sacer.

…also in Etruscan (the probable origin).

. . . Sacer has derivative v sacrare, to treat as, to render, sacred,

whence Of-F sacrer, ME sacren, pp sacred, whence the adj sacred…

Also from L sacr– comes sacrarium, a shrine, a small chapel…”

Eric Partridge’s Origins, 1966

 

It is interesting to note that idea — that the root of the word sacer in Latin came to us from Etruscan.

What we know of the Etruscan religion  is a belief in “a universe controlled by gods who manifested their nature and their will in every facet of the natural world as well as in objects created by humans,” where man was integrated into the sacred whole of the Earth. (Robert Guisepi, Etruscans, A History of the Etruscan people including their cities, art, society, rulers and contributions to civilization, 2002 at http://history-world.org/etruscanreligion_and_mythology.htm)  “Roman writers give repeated evidence that the Etruscans regarded every bird and every berry as a potential source of knowledge of the gods and that they had developed an elaborate lore* and attendant rituals for using this knowledge.”

And this is the root of the word we have in English that is Sacred:

Nature as source of knowledge of the gods.

It would seem the question of Earth as Sacred was not in doubt for myriad peoples throughout the world, including what would become known as the Western Civilization tradition. *And I’m reminded of a time speaking with a fellow who happened to be Northern Cheyenne, who reminded me that ‘one man’s lore is another’s beliefs’.

So to explore how the Earth is considered sacred shouldn’t make us squeamish. Or even embarrassed.

Yet bring up a title such as this blog’s and the coming book (as well as the hoped-for course and curriculum for our children — see the newly added About the Book page here), and the first response I’m met with is:

“Really?”

It is accompanied by a side-turn of the eyes, a shrug, a look over the shoulders and an edgy body posture suggesting the listener is a bit nervous I’m about to say something, well, embarrassing about God or gods or meaning or use of natural resources. . . . all as if to say:

“Let’s not go there. Let’s quantify. Let’s separate ourselves, man from Nature. Let’s not do that god-talk stuff as we approach a discussion of ‘highest use’ of natural resources and  a sustainable meting out of our habitat …

“It’s too, well, crazy.”

Yet the moral beliefs, our humankind Story, the explanations for why things are, which humans have developed out of the deepest longing of our hearts to help us to make sense of our existence and  our relationship with the mystery of how this whole thing began — creation or Creation — across the world such Story has some reference to the Earth as being sacred, a place where we better understand God or gods, where man is integrated into the whole of it.  Somehow.

So that’s why sacred — or Sacred — is part of the consideration of the habitat in which we live and on which we depend for our oxygen, water, minerals, food, inspiration, pharmacies… shall I go on?

I’m far from the first to suggest that if we perceive a place as Sacred, we treat it differently.

Have you, your children, or your community, explored this notion recently?

If so, drop me a line and tell me how!

It’s all part of the Story that we need to communicate to our children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2011/nov/16/stranded-polar-bears-alaska-in-picture)

From a photo gallery published in the Guardian.UK (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2011/nov/16/stranded-polar-bears-alaska-in-picture) by wildlife photographers Will Rose and Kasja at 70˚North, a multimedia project

The polar bears (above) have returned, pacing day after day, on this beach of an island in the Arctic Sea where they are marooned.  The are looking for the sea ice their mothers and the mothers of their mothers taught them was their way to survive. Day after day, they are finding the sea ice is not there.

 

 

Biophilia: Eric Fromm (1964) reimagined by the equally brilliant biologist Edward O. Wilson, introducing the ancient concept — some might even say primitive or indigenous or mythic  (and not meaning these are the same thing) — of a human innate love of our bios, our habitat, our living world, from the cute and cuddly to the breathtaking beauty of forests, ocean, sky, natural spaces. It is a Love of the Garden, as I like to call it, in all its wildness, resilience, force, and tear-inspiring awe. We have left the Garden so completely, and thrown ourselves into the black, outer-world of exile where there is much gnashing of teeth, that Wilson offered us a reminder that such care, even such love, of our natural world is a natural, ingrained response within us. At Lexic.com it is noted that the medical definition of biophilia is the instinct for self-preservation (love of one’s life).

 

BioMimicry: Coming soon in 3.8, helping us to discover — again, as our ancestors knew so well — that as Nature progresses she teaches us to evolve or survive, reconnect and hopefully resolve our destructive tendencies to come (return?) to a way of living that is more sustainable in the face of the laws of Nature. Put in Nature’s way of work: Evolve or Die; To Be (Clever), or Not To Be.

 

 
BioEthics: Boiled down greatly to a decision regarding how an individual chooses (or is forced) to live or die in the medical sphere.  Perhaps it should have meant what has become known as Environmental Ethics, a wilderness in which we are led by the brilliance of Holmes Rolston III, among others, in considering how (not whether) Nature has standing and thus value — just because it exists — in our human system of values.  Also consider BioCentrism, as explored by Paul Taylor in the age of environmental enlightenment of the 1970s and 1980s, as an attempt to balance our species’ plague of anthropocentrism.
Biocide: Traditionally a means developed by scientists to kill off living organisms, presumably the ones humans choose to be dangerous or a distraction.  Of course, with little movement on this slippery slope, we find ourselves wonder whether we are also killing off our bios, our habitat in which case it transmogrifies to suicide.
BioEmpathy: The Institute for the Future defines it as “The ability to see things from Nature’s point of view” and is becoming a taught concept within the Episcopalian Church of the US.

 

 

I would add another meaning, however. BioEmpathy is not only the ability to see things from Nature’s point of view, but also the ability to feel what the object of our focus in Nature is feeling in any given moment.  BioEmpathy means to allow ourselves to feel the suffering, the sorrow and the mourning, em pathos, in understanding and suffering, just as the “other” feels.

 

 

In the instance of these polar bears, BioEmpathy is to be willing, able and strong enough in Spirit to allow your self to feel the pain of hunger these bears feel after weeks of being unable to leave the island in the Arctic Sea. It is to allow yourself to feel their fear and bewilderment at the startling recognition that their “normal” way to leave this island in the middle of the Arctic is not there, and that they are starving.

In the face of this choice of starve or swim in search for sea ice, some polar bears strike out into the ocean, their adaptation as strong swimmers and instinct to survive leading them on.  In the case of at least 8 bears discovered floating dead in the Arctic Sea by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, led by their will to live, these beautiful, powerful creatures drowned during their swim to survive. They died trying. We have no way of knowing how many more of these magnificent mammals are lost each day of each month while trying to survive long enough to adapt to the new conditions of their Polar habitat.

Lost.

 

Doesn’t that word alone invoke feelings of desperation and desolation within you, and within your spirit?

 

Can you feel the bears’ hunger?  Can you feel their confusion at what to do next?

 

Can you empathize with what they feel at what they see:  in this case no way out and no “normal” Way of survival?

 

Are you brave enough to feel this — and does it cause a few tears to well in your eyes for these polar bears’ situation?

 

If so, that is BioPhilia — love of life and love of self-preservation. For you are then feeling alive and connected to another mammal who lives with you on our Earth, our habitat and home, our Garden and Life-Support.

 

 

It is only when we can be strong enough to feel as these bears do and to feel their lurch of desperation in our own hearts and a cry of panic in our own spirits, that we then also feel the impetus and inspiration to change and nurture their future — the future of so much of our Garden habitat that we love — and thus change and nurture our shared and common life in our Earth home.

We are able to do something about global warming. You are, and I am.

They cannot.

We are able to do something to lessen or even halt the spread of pollution in their habitat and the invisible leaching of PCB’s through their water. You are, and I am.

They cannot.

Let’s do this — Now.

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