Living on the land

“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land… In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”

-Aldo Leopold

We are bone wrapped in muscle packaged in skin. An infinity of hydraulic and electrical systems intermeshed – molecular programming and elemental exchange bubbling along at nanolevels and quantum rhythms. We, as part of the universe, are evolutionary machines. But unlike the metal machines we make with our hands, we are complex beyond understanding and filled with the tendrils of chaos. Love bubbles up out of pain and happiness bursts from depression.

What are we?

What a question.

One answer is that we are great apes, primates, with humungous brains and sparse hair. As members of the Homo genus with an evolved skillset of  hand/eye coordination we can drive cars, drink lattes, and facebook, but we still contain the morphology and genes that yearn for hunting and gathering on the savanna.

We move toward happiness and fulfillment, just like any animal on the planet. Individual units banding together as tribes, tribes banding together as cultures. We meet our needs, our tribes needs, then our cultures, and humanity overall.  Our priorities start with our own breath and expand outward.

When our basic needs are met we search and find meaning and love.  Religion and art arise out of an abundance of material resources . Life becomes less about survival and more about pleasure – whatever stimulates our neo cortex.

We are stimulated by the act of doing. Activity is what starts growth. Inactivity promotes depression, sickness. Perhaps it is a simple evolutionary trick – the survival of the tribe hinges on its weakest link. So we applaud positivity and health and shun depression and illness.

We have become experts at creating satisfactory analogues for our primal needs. We are saturated with the ability to join interest groups and participate in social media. But a trickle of dopamine will never truly satisfy the the soul.

Connecting with nature is the first step toward a healthy  life.

We need a comprehensive reeducation in what it means to be a member of our land communities. To start with, an appreciation and respect for the elements: the earth, water, air, and fire.

To know nature truly we need to be connected to our local foodshed and soil: the complex web of life it contains and the food it produces. We need to understand where our water comes from and where it goes, and we need to tend to it on it’s journey through the landscape. We need to learn and live within the climate of the land that we live on. We need to be connected to our sources of energy; the carbon we harvest to produce our warmth and heat, that we burn to power our engines and lights and vehicles.

Furthermore, we need to be connected to our fellow creatures: the tame and wild animals that provide more sustenance then we can understand: not just muscle, fat, bone, and skin, but all of the countless activities they do that support our land community.  We need to be connected to our shelter; the materials we gather to create buildings, the fibers we cultivate to weave into fabric and tools. We need to be connected to our tribes, and ourselves.

All of these things are possible right now. All of them are necessary for survival.










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