The natural world

October 24, 2018

I have plants in my office.  One, a bamboo, was a gift from my mother.  Another, a money plant, was a gift from my wife.  Another, I found in the trash at work, but I saved it and brought it back to life.  The rest, including six succulents, were gifts to myself.

 

I also have a lot of plants at home.

 

I believe that we must maintain a connection with the natural world.  For some, that may mean doing yard work at their suburban home on the weekends.  For others, that may mean regularly spending time in a park, like Rittenhouse Square or Fairmount Park.  For others like me, it may mean caring for plants in their home and office.

 

One of the characteristics of (North) American culture is mobility.  For many of our ancestors, this meant emigration from Europe and Africa.  For many of their kin, it meant following the call to go west, young man.  For many in our modern day, it means going wherever work may be found, perhaps from the city to the suburbs (or vice versa) or from this area to one of the areas of growth and expansion, like Phoenix or Houston for example.

 

For nearly the rest of the world, however, the idea of physical mobility is strange and foreign.  For many people throughout the world, the town where you are born is the town where you live and ultimately the town where you die.

 

In this sense, I believe that there is a downside to the American concept of physical mobility, namely that we have largely lost our connection to the land under our feet.  In Native American culture, there is a sacred respect for the land, for many reasons, the not least of which is that the land we walk is the same land where our forefathers walked and died and now lay to rest.

 

If my logic is valid, then it stands to reason that the American disregard (if I may term it such) of the land has led to a disregard of our effects on the environment.  And that the spread of global capitalism has led to the 'export' of this disregard of the environment -- as developing countries fiercely compete to be sources of production, and developed countries compete for the buying power of consumers in those very same developing countries.

 

All of this, in sum, has led to climate change, which has become readily apparent in the past several years.

 

Now, I can't profess to offer solutions in this short article to the macro-global problems of climate change.  But I do hope that we can all be more aware and better connected to the natural world around us, beginning with the plants and trees all around us!

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