“We are here to wake up from our illusion of separation.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
One of the biggest lies that the people of the north of the world have sold and largely internalized is that we are separated from the biosphere we evolved from and depend on for our very survival. Even as we stand on the precipice of ecological collapse, human supremacy over nature has been the undisputed narrative. As a result, those who have embarked on the struggle to protect this fragile arrangement of existence are often tampered with. Their “cause” is treated as one of many others. The “treehugger?” The “environmentalist?” The person who “cares about the land?” How picturesque. How non-threatening. It just becomes another cause among a myriad of causes.
The message here is that we shouldn’t think of this in terms of human survival. In existential terms. It would be too hyperbolic. Too woo-woo. The corporations that derive every part of their wealth from the true “Commonwealth” of all species on this planet want nothing less than to think that we are either above it all or separate from it all. If others make the connection we need to stop the decimation of the natural world, it will ultimately reduce their profit margins. If we are being honest, this is what interests the current economic and political order the most.
To be fair, capitalism can do nothing but accumulate more and more capital. And capital is pretty much everything there is, from crude minerals and oil deep in the earth’s crust, to sea fish and trees in the Boreal Range, to governments and politicians, to our own information and preferences. personal. He has created a global arrangement of power that must use obfuscation and violence, or its threat, as a means to keep the engine running.
But if we take that as really existential, we start to realize that things like hooking up our vehicles for one person, or replacing plastic straws with bamboo straws, or recycling our plastic water bottles. are mainly showcases for an unfolding disaster. They aim to obscure one of the greatest crimes in human history, the large-scale destruction of life on earth for the benefit of the corporate class.
None of this is intended to encourage conspiratorial thinking. That’s not to say that there is a group of evil villains meeting in a secret conference room plotting the destruction of Earth’s biosphere somewhere, either. But it involves some sort of conspiracy at work. Just a few years ago, we learned that the tobacco industry hired doctors to lie about the harmful effects of smoking, even though they knew full well that it caused life-threatening illnesses like heart disease, emphysema and lung cancer. Plastics companies have laundered the mass production of their products by promoting programs like recycling, which have barely put an end to the growing problem of plastic pollution. And we learned relatively recently that the fossil fuel industry has done something similar when it comes to the danger of endless burning of fossil fuels and its accelerating climate change. Businesses are simply unable to combat the destructive effects of the way they operate if it interferes with the paradigm of endless growth and rising profit.
The danger we now face could not be more terrible. World-renowned political dissident and author Noam Chomsky has warned that “the future of organized human life” is threatened by climate change. A recent article by 17 scientists in the journal Frontiers in Conservation Science warned of the “horrific” consequences of ecological degradation if drastic action is not taken. And Australian scientists this year released a thought-provoking report on various ecosystems in the region that are in a state of collapse, from the tropics to coral reefs, the desert and Antarctica.
Whether one believes these reports or not, there is ample evidence of massive ecological destruction throughout the southern part of the planet, which is a direct result of the extractive and mining industries in the northern part of the planet. Clear-cut forests, from Brazil to Indonesia, have exploded exponentially. Substandard mining practices have tainted the waterways. Pollution from fossil fuel extraction continues to be a plague, from harmful benzene plumes and effluents in the Niger Delta to the opening of oil wells in the Ecuadorian Amazon to massive spills on coral reefs in Africa. off Mauritius. Garbage from the north of the globe is regularly dumped in areas of the south of the globe that are not regulated or supervised. And new “green” technology threatens to destroy even more habitats with lithium mines and solar farms. This is what the company’s “externalized costs” policy really looks like. This is also how the lie of separation manifests itself. Businesses move from one sacrifice zone to another, but in a finite world, this Faustian market was doomed from the start.
We were warned that a radical change was needed. Not surprisingly, companies that run the affairs of the world have incorporated much of this language into their mission statements and philosophy. But we have to understand that this is nothing more than another subterfuge. One way to maximize their profit from a dying world while giving it a green face. To do this, they must maintain the current rate of extraction and growth. But now they have been forced to change the language they use.
Of course, no real sacrifice will be required of us in the north of the globe, who have greatly benefited from this untenable and unjust way of life. As George HW Bush said: “The American way of life is not to be negotiated. Period.” And by that he meant the American model of endless accumulation of capital and consumption for the few at the expense of the many and the living earth.
Humanity is facing its sworn enemy. The thin layer of air and water that embraces the crust of this planet, and on which we are fully dependent, is in peril like no other era in human history. And there is a clear cause for this. Businesses, with the help of the military and political sectors, are rapidly breaking down the fragile net that holds us back. And they get away with it because most of us still think we are somehow separated from nature. The quote from Thich Nhat Hanh at the top of this essay might be seen by some as strictly spiritual in its implications. But I think it also has a very tangible application to our situation as a species. For too long we have let the narrative be dictated by the myth of our separation and domination over the earth and all that lives here. And this story has brought us to the brink of total catastrophe. Dispelling this toxic illusion is therefore imperative for our very survival.
#Humans #Nature #Illusion #Separation