The Ecology of Interconnection

Posted February 23rd, 2015 in Blog, Featured, Zine 1 Comment »

Theme #3 for 2015

We started the year with some thoughts on the Ecology of Fossil Fuels (#1). We then shared some thoughts on the Ecology of Racism (#2) as this impacts any hopes we have for transforming our world away from the destruction of the industrial age. Each of these themes is a way to highlight a fundamental fact or reality of Nature – that all things are interconnected, that there is nothing we can do to escape the interrelatedness of everything within the whole wild diversity of all that is. Because this is true, if those points of connection are damaged, or worse, destroyed, the impacts radiate out through the webs of all those interconnections. They begin to break down, and what holds the whole together starts to unravel.

March lecture series crude

Margaret Swedish pointing out some of the pathological interconnections.

We are as healthy or as sick as those connections are. Because this is true, a culture that focuses on the individual self, on self-interest, on selfish gain, on living in self-isolated enclaves, of psychologically and spiritually detaching the choices we make for our lives from the impacts each of those choices has on those connections, is, in reality, a lie, a deception – because it cannot be done no matter how hard we try to do it.

An economy focused on individual consumption, gain, and affluence, is unhealthy, destructive, and can easily become pathological. And since suicidal tendencies indicate pathology, since extreme violence and cruelty indicate pathology, since self-destructive behavior indicates pathology, since extreme forms of injustice indicate pathology, and since domestic abuse – that is, violence perpetrated on those with whom we live in intimacy or within families – indicates pathology…

Flaring in at the new fracking well pad in Western PA on the boundary of Villa Maria

Flaring in at the new fracking well pad in Western PA on the boundary of Villa Maria – a form of extreme ecological violence.

Well, let’s be clear about this – these are hallmarks of the industrial growth culture and clear evidence that our way of life is indeed pathological. We are headed towards species suicide. We are perpetrating extreme violence and cruelty not only among humans but against Nature (Life, Living Systems) of which we are expression and on which we are completely dependent. We are perpetrating extreme violence against the closely-knit ecological families of which we are a part and apart from which we are not at all.

And so the crucial importance of another kind of ecology – one that sees this with horror and shock, with grief that brings us to our knees, with fear and trembling over what we have done and the consequences of our behavior for all those around us (sentient and non-sentient beings). What we see brings us back to the origins of our loving relations with a sense of extreme regret and remorse and a passionate desire to heal what is broken, what is not yet beyond repair.

But as with AA – you cannot find the healing path by continuing to drink the poison – if I just drink a little less, or not as often, or just here and there. It is an addiction, the worst one of our lives, for even in our best days we cannot figure out a way to live without it.

Without what? Oil, gas, plastics, rare earth minerals, coal, uranium, toxic chemicals – because they are in everything, in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the buildings in which we live, the energy we burn to stay warm or cool. We built our entire lives on this stuff – not intentionally, not with any thought-out decision-making process, but just because it was what was and has been available to us to create the world of shopping malls and freeways and planes and airports and jobs and instant communication and faster processing of everything.

And so quickly have we grown this world – just 200 years to bring us to the brink – that we are at a point now of no escape – anywhere. This version of industrial humanity, this global economy, touches every part of our planet now and there is no place not impacted in some direct, damaging manner. We continue to suck dwindling resources out of the Earth. We continue to contaminate our air and water and soil, thereby also our very bodies. We continue to overwhelm the planet with our waste.


Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster, July 6 2013

Standing on that brink now, we don’t have a clue how to get off this train wreck. Think exploding oil trains as an apt metaphor. Think of that runaway train in Quebec headed for the town of Lac-Mégantic and no way to stop it, yet seeing the disaster in front of us, that feeling of helplessness. There isn’t even time to warn those young people having a fine time in the bar that night…

What to do… What to do in this most desperate of times.

Well, me make a movement. That’s what we do. We make a movement that understands ecology, the importance of those points of connection. We make a movement that sees clearly the pathologies that have brought us to the brink and sees the need to cure them – quickly – to get this culture into some healing therapies, some radical awakening, some shock therapy, into safe rooms with padded walls where we can wrestle with the withdrawal symptoms, cry out our pain and grief, share what is hidden in our hearts about our fears and brokenness, our vulnerabilities, our admissions of our dependency on all the versions of drugs this culture has given us.

Photo: Margaret Swedish

Photo: Margaret Swedish

Then we get off the stuff as much as we can (because we can’t do it completely yet), and get to work repairing the damage as fast as we can.

And here’s the beautiful thing about that – it is actually occurring – all over the place. New Creation is going on among this crazy species as more and more people are seeing the reality of our situation and creating movements of ecological hope and renewal, partnering with their living ecosystems in search of ways to heal and repair, turning their backs on an industrial culture that has so little regard for their “places” and communities, realizing as never before that we are far more dependent on Mother Earth than the economic culture that is consuming her gifts.

People are coming together more and more to witness, to denounce and announce, to declare clearly the “signs of the times,” to take a prophetic stance against the extreme forms of violence against the planet – from strip mining Mother Earth’s mountains and sandhills and boreal forests, to drilling and fracking, to vast open pit mines for extraction of iron ore, rare earth minerals, gold, and so much more, to covering over fertile farmlands and mountain valleys and ocean and lake shores for private development, to pouring pollutants and trash into our oceans….

How can we have so little regard?

peoples climate march crpdWell, more and more people have lots of regard, and the transition has clearly begun. You won’t see it on TV news yet or read about it much in the newspapers, but it is happening. We are part of the Earth. We are one of her living beings. And she is starting to move through us as part of the “correction,” to speak through us and work through us, as expression of a new ecological movement. More and more of us realize we’re in trouble. The biology stirs within us. And a new sense of our part within the whole is leading to new emergent spiritualities, cultures, and forms of activism that are in sync with the energies of the planet.

There is hope emerging as a biological, ecological, and spiritual force all around the world now. And we will write about that story in our next post.

Margaret Swedish

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One Response

  1. Frank Dettloff

    Very true, very moving,