Mother Earth is sending us messages all the time; it’s something she has always done. There are times human beings receive her messages and other times, when we don’t. Mother Earth, however, patiently keeps up her end of the conversation whether we’re listening or not.
Life on this planet is her organic experiment: self-propagating, deeply redundant, diverse, and in the case of human beings, self-conscious. The experiment is on auto-pilot, constantly evolving and adapting to changing conditions. Conditions change due to local and global feedback loops that continuously generate new altered conditions, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. This is another way to describe “self-propagating.”
For example, our self-conscious activity has and is generating dramatic global effects on climate, habitat and animal species. Activity, in this case, is broadly defined; in less prosaic terms we could say “really screwing things up.”
Perhaps we have not evolved enough to understand the messages Mother Earth sends us. Compared to the accumulated experience Mother Earth has at her fingertips each moment, human beings are like amoebas–bumbling, energetic amoebas. We narcissistically imagine ourselves capable of communicating with alien civilizations located light-years away in space, yet we can’t comprehend what Mother Earth tells us. Is there a message in the way spots are arranged within a flower? And the location of flowers in a field; what message is hidden there? What about fragrance; what’s Mother Earth saying? Imagine being able to fully grasp and process the data Mother Earth constantly and generously provides, information simply for the taking.
Perhaps all this is far too subtle. It’s not easy being part of a living experiment where we get to play both scientist and lab rat at the same time. At this point, it appears the “rats” have taken over the lab; in record-setting time, global consumerism has generated an accelerating succession of feedback loops systemically altering the non-linear equation underlying Mother Earth’s organic experiment. In human terms, the experiment–as has happened to Mother Earth many times before–is out of her control. The effects of just 5,000 years of self-conscious human imagination represent an unpredictable “Black Swan” event in the evolution of life on Earth; in geo-biological terms the human race is akin to the extinction-level asteroid that paleontologists tell us wiped out the dinosaurs.
If only we could decipher Mother Earth’s message. She holds back nothing; there are no secrets she keeps from us, only things we don’t yet understand. If the world is indeed “going to hell in a hand-basket” it’s not like we’ve had no role to play, and are still playing. We’re like misbehaving children who not only don’t know when to stop, but can’t. Humanity is afflicted with a global case of attention deficit disorder; Mother Earth has to scream at us with high temperatures, prolonged droughts, and terrible storms just to get our attention.
And because we don’t understand her, we use imagination to make up fantastic stories about her experiment. These stories are like those in books for little children, innocently sentimental and simplistic. Having little to with reality, our stories get us into constant trouble.
If we could but understand! But like the children we are, we will not be able to hear Mother Earth if we don’t sit still for a while, be quiet, and pay attention.