Since the time immemorial, human beings have left their fingerprints on everything they come across. Not only as inhabitants of this planet, but also as an agent of change, human being collectively have used, and at times abused, the resources they found on earth. In modern time, however, human beings appear to be the most destructive force is also a destructive man that is changing the planet 170 times faster than natural forces.
We are living in Anthropocene Era where human beings collectively are the primary driver of change. Scientists so often tell us that if we don’t reduce our impact on the environment, then we will soon trigger the total societal collapse.
Compared to the Earth’s life, which is billions of years old, humans haven’t been around for very long. Relative to the earth and evolutionary process, we are still infants. Yet in the brief period, we have existed on Earth, we have altered the environment to great lengths. Climate Change is the most urgent problem we face today. Even though the modern man has digressed far from its primal version, it would be worth revisiting our primal ways in order to begin the process of reversing decades of damage to the environment.
Becoming conscious of our innate connection with Earth
It is through the billions of years of evolutionary processes that we are the erect, walking human with opposable thumbs today. When life first started on Earth 3.8 billion years ago, it was in the form of single-celled bacteria. Multicellular life followed, then sprouted the life we know such as fish and plants, with mammals following a few million years later. So, if we were to trace life back beyond our origins in Africa, then it would probably lead us back to bacteria using the Earth’s nutrients to survive and foster.
Roman Emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, said one should see the world as a poet and an artist.
He wrote, “Pass through this brief patch of time in harmony with nature, and come to your final resting place gracefully, just as a ripened olive might drop, praising the earth that nourished it and grateful to the tree that gave it growth.”
It’s hard to comprehend the value of our immediate environment, let alone far off mountains and seas if we spend most of our time in closed, man-made spaces such as cars and high rise buildings. In order to realise that we, in fact, are congruent with nature, then we must learn to observe and appreciate beauty wherever we go from subtle actions like the way a leaf separates from its branch and falls softly to the ground in delicate swirls to the conspicuous glow of the moon at nightfall.
Upon realising the omnipresent flavour of Earth extant in all its offshoots, it becomes easier to understand how our daily activities are damaging the planet.
Material desires clouding our connection with the planet
In the past 200,000 years, we have gained much sophistication all socially, culturally and habitually and we do have means to lead a comfortable life that not only fulfils our basic needs but also go well beyond it to fulfil our potential needs. Industrialisation, which happened only around 200 years ago, is the primary cause of our 360-degree switch from a mostly agricultural society to a capitalist society.
Most of what we do is to achieve happiness and the found stone of capitalism is the more you buy, the more happiness you will get. And so it’s no surprise that for most of us it has become hard to look beyond material compensation to search for alternative sources of happiness. In this sense, even though we are so different from our primal versions, increasingly we want the life they had.
We want to work fewer hours, live longer, be healthier and eat more organic food.
Lessons to learn from the primal humans
The Palaeolithic or primal lifestyle, which was harmonious with nature, can be recreated to suit the present. At the time, humans were connected to their immediate natural surroundings both internally and externally.
It would be a naïve blunder to ask people to give up modern life as we know it and go back to living like we did hundreds of years ago. However, it would be wise to adopt practices like demolishing the idea of individualism. We live in a society so if we understand that we need to fend for ourselves alone, then we won’t each be fighting for limited resources of the Earth. Instead, we would understand that there is enough and more to go around if there is equal distribution.
The primal humans were absolutely dependent on natural resources their survival, as we still are. However, because humans have figured out means to create unnatural sources to satiate our needs, it seems that we are no longer as dependent on the Earth. But let’s not forget that we still draw our water from the same oceans that existed when the Earth came into being and will continue to draw from the same one.
From our primitive version, we can learn to stay close to the seed that bore us our fruit.
Isn’t it a natural human behaviour to care for those you love? Love is an innate characteristic present in each of the seven billion people that live on Earth. If we can all tap into that energy and use it to appreciate our environment, then care will flow naturally whereby we will become conscious of how our every activity impacts nature.
Hopefully, through awareness, we will alter our ways to save the planet for disaster looming around the corner.
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