We’re all trees, humans, insects, birds, bacteria — pluralities.
Life is a embodied network. This living network is not centrally located nor particular to concepts of oneness – yet ironically it is Our Oneness. Our struggles, ecological and evolutionary tensions between cooperation and conflict are shared whether we see or fully understand them. It is after all our forest that is often negotiated, shared and resolved. These struggles often result not in the evolution of stronger, more disconnected selves but in the dissolution of the self into relationships.
Because life is like a forest, there is no “nature” or “environment,” separate and apart from us. We are part of the community of life, composed of relationships with “others,” so the human/nature duality that lives near the heart of many philosophies is, from a biological perspective, illusory. We are not, in the words of the folk hymn, wayfaring strangers traveling through this world. Nor are we the estranged creatures of Wordsworth’s lyrical ballads, fallen out of Nature into a “stagnant pool” of artifice where we misshape “the beauteous forms of things.” Our bodies and minds, our “science and art,” are as natural and wild as they ever were.
We cannot step outside life’s songs. This music made us; it is our nature.
Our ethic must therefore be one of belonging, an imperative made all the more urgent by the many ways that human actions are fraying, rewiring, and severing biological networks worldwide. To listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, is therefore to learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance, and beauty.
Peace and Love, Jim