Though many would label me such, I do not identify as an environmentalist.
My love of and dedication to others has not much to do with a love of biophysical factors and systems we participate in. Rather, I am in love with the brilliance and intelligence of form. Environment is, thus, a misnomer for my care.
Environment may refer to:
- —Environment (biophysical), the physical and biological factors along with their chemical interactions that affect an organism.
- —Environment (systems), the surroundings of a physical system that may interact with the system by exchanging mass, energy, or other properties.
Though we mean well, the environment rightly tends to conjure an amorphous, empty space somehow unrelated and unaffected by those who comprise it and within which humans go about our living without consequence.
We recognize the environment as elementals called air, water, fire and soil, without recognition for how these elementals are fed by and feed everyone in existence with their life force. Our present challenge to speak effectively for life can be overcome simply by choosing our words carefully to relay the heart of the matter.
The biophysical and systems environment is nothing less than a consequence of a whole community comprised of brilliantly unique individuals dancing in relationship.
Care and reciprocity are natural laws of relationship, yes? If we aim to keep others around, there’s a certain level of respect and concern that must be practiced as much, and more yet, than spoken. With a great mass extinction of species and cultures underway, humanity is learning the law of care and reciprocity in relationship.
Research shows that at least half of all existing others, including many famous large mammals, will have vanished by the time my toddler is in his mid-30s. What is left of humanity’s cultural diversity is sure to pass along with them.
The most bewildering prediction of loss I have encountered is Michael Rosenzweig’s prediction that 95 percent of non-human others in our community will go before us, should we stay the course. Others are leaving for good reason. They have suffered the extremes of neglect and abuse far too long.
Words have influence beyond measure, as they depict and perpetuate how we see and how we relate. We must practice correct language now in earnest. To say what we really mean, we will do well to replace environment and nature with community and life.
I beg we step and breathe with gratitude as we walk on and breathe in others to whom we are bound. I pray our words and actions do well by them. The ground and sky exist only but for all and every one of us. Let Life be the word and Community the practice. Thank you.
Edited by Hayley Samuelson.