Saturday, August 4, 2007

"Getting out in nature" continues the illusion

Yesterday I missed doing my blog. I was moving a bit further "into nature" -- "out in the country," as they say -- for a few days. In this primitive setting I have only dial-up, not wireless. And the tap water tastes fabulous. "Out in nature." Such an interesting concept. Such an illusory distinction...

I decided to develop some thoughts I was toying with last week.

  • Play arises from and serves survival (as practice for adult behaviors), but we can and do use it for so much more.
  • Sex arises from and serves reproduction, but we can and do engage in it for so many other purposes.
  • Intelligence and imagination arise from and serve survival, but we can and do use them for so much more -- often for things that don't enhance our survival at all..
  • Intention arises from and serves survival, but we can and do use it for things that don't enhance our survival, or even endanger it.
  • This list could go on.

The fact that some capacity or tendency arose out of and serves the evolutionary dynamics of "survive and reproduce" does not mean that that capacity or tendency will only be used to serve such "positive" evolutionary dynamics. It can be used in ways that have little to do with evolution -- or that lead to degradation, death, or extinction -- "negative" phenomena that have their own evolutionary significance.

Free will arose progressively from and has served our survival, individually and collectively. But we are using it in ways that make us look more and more unnatural, as if we are separate from nature. This is an illusion. We never left the Garden, no matter how much we pave it over and lace it with chemicals. We are not separate from nature, no matter how we try to free ourselves from its balancing feedback loops -- with medicine, with shelter, with levies, with manipulative technologies -- stretching our human systems increasingly out of that natural balance -- a balance which WILL snap back.

How hard it snaps will depend largely on how soon and in what ways we decide to attend to and align with the evolutionary dynamics of survival and the natural feedback loops of balance. It seems to me that our learning to do that very consciously -- as whole societies -- is at the heart of our next evolutionary leap. Through the creation of consciousness, cultures and institutions that align us with the realities of nature, we can begin a whole new evolutionary ballgame. Without that creation we will arrive at an evolutionary dead-end, and turn over the game to some new players.

Only with our departure as a species -- extinction -- would we actually be "outside of nature." May we wake up to that.

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