In the overall span of time, we are a brief evolutionary experiment. Along the way we came to believe that we are different from other creatures. We came to see ourselves at the pinnacle of creation. But scientists have found otherwise. We are not so different after all. And it seems Nature is wiser than all of us.
Since ancient times we have been curious about how the world works.
Our guide for the past 300 years has been the machine imagery emphasized by such great geniuses as Sir Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes. They proposed that we live in a mechanical universe. To understand this complex system, we had to break it up into parts. Once we knew the workings of each part, we could understand, in principle, the dynamics of the whole. This world of machine images felt anti-human. Loneliness and a sense of isolation pervaded Western culture. A mechanical universe was the accepted scientific view until the twentieth century.
Gradually physicists began to realize that our world at the atomic level is an interconnected web. The whole is primary and relationships are the key determiner of everything. Knowing the properties of the parts can help us understand the whole. At the same time we can understand fully the properties of the parts only through the dynamics of the whole. Unseen connections exist between what we previously thought were separate parts. Our challenge now is to see the universe as an integrated whole and feel our connection to this whole.
Science describes nature as an interconnected system that tends toward balance.
Nature helps us understand the paradox in every living system. Each member exists as a separate being, yet at the same time as part of the whole. Each member has a unique role that fulfills its purpose. Each member’s power to create or destroy affects the harmony of the whole. A highly stable ecosystem benefits from its diverse members. It shows that diversity and mutual cooperation are the secrets to success of any system. Within a successful ecosystem individual creatures must work out balance between independence and interdependence. It is this balance we must learn in managing our human affairs.
Everything in the universe is connected with everything else.
We’re not only linked to each other. We’re also connected to Planet Earth. Science and nature remind us that relationships are wondrously varied and complex. We need one another to flourish. Our work together must benefit each one’s efforts to succeed. A world community calls us to live in harmony with natural and human worlds. It asks us to accept and appreciate diverse cultures—people who are different from us. It requires an open heart and a willingness to become citizens of the world. We do not live in isolation. Our lives do have meaning.
Human survival is facing the threat of nuclear holocaust and devastation of the natural world. These problems are systemic problems that cannot be solved in isolation. Their solutions require a change in values. We must turn away from an attitude of domination and control of nature and other human beings. We must turn toward one of mutual cooperation and nonviolence. Our actions affect generations to come and the whole of creation. Our choices now create our future.
Mary Beth Ford, Ed. D., is the author of Wisdom from the Gardens: Life Lessons and creator of Garden Wisdom Teleseminars. She specializes in the area of life balance, which she describes as balance between outer world and inner self. Through her work Dr. Ford shares five powerful garden lessons for living with balance and joy. Using nature images she gives us an inspiring vision of ourselves and our world. She offers products online at The Garden Wisdom Store. To learn more, visit her website at http://www.wisdomfromthegardens.com and receive a free summary of five garden lessons for life balance and joy.