Philosophically, where has the past year gotten me? The most important insight probably has to do with people and all life forms being an expression of place. I’m still working to deepen my understanding of it, but I can grasp it more tangibly than ever before.
What was it Vine Deloria, Jr. said? Something about the worldview of the red man being about place, whereas the white man’s worldview is consumed with time. The emanations of a particular place certainly would change over time, as global patterns changed and as a result of geologic and even human activity. But we should only concern ourselves with being here (wherever here happens to be) now. Now is always outside of time. Here is where we always are. Here may simply be another word for our identity. Even after death, as pure consciousness, even if that consciousness is diffused throughout the cosmos, it will always be right here, wherever we are.
This bowl of reality that surrounds me--this “here”--is me. I always have a bubble of “here” surrounding and creating me. I think my fuller self is that bubble--and maybe the bubble would expand as my awareness expanded.
I still really need to get a hold of Ellsworth Huntington’s books. Edith Cobb’s book too. I think ultimately, although they seem to be about entirely different subjects, they point to the same thing. You can call it environmental determinism if you like, but I think it’s deeper than that. We’re getting down to consciousness here--Earth’s consciousness--and this is big stuff we’re talking about, difficult for puny human beings to understand.
I keep coming back to my image of the conflict that encircles the drought-stricken lands. In my mind I see it as a ring of red like what encircles a wound. I see it now as an organic process of the earth, and it makes me wonder what other human predicaments are actually not human-created at all, but expressions of the land. What about the artificial environment of the inner cities? Maybe they are so prone to violence there because nature has been obscured and an artificial desert created. Without an active, diverse ecosystem--where there’s only concrete, steel, bricks, heat, weeds, and limited animal life—wouldn’t that push on a person’s survival instincts? Where there are limited real resources--no food, except maybe what could be scrounged, expensively, at a convenience store, or in a fast food joint. No jobs. No hope. A dead ecosystem. Life and death struggles come out of such a place.
And what about the Middle East? In a book I’m reading now (Common Wealth: Economics for a Small Planet, by Jeffrey D. Sachs) the author mentioned the increasingly dire water situation the Israelis and Palestinians are facing. What we think is an entirely human-made conflict may actually be an expression of the land. I wonder what would happen if the Middle East were green, productive and had abundant water resources? How would humanity express itself there?