Monday, February 13, 2017

Merely a Strand

The web of life

Decades ago, when I first began learning about the ongoing destruction and looming decimation of the rain forests, my concern mainly focused on the plant and animal life being obliterated. 

In more recent years, study after study has shown that rain forests hold dozens upon dozens of plants which prove to be beneficial, and even curative, to humans. In fact, more than 1/4 of all medicines we use come from rain forests.

One of the newer scientific discoveries is that "...a weed traditional healers in the Amazon have used for hundreds of years ... has the power to stop [a particular infection in mice]." Of course, the next step will be human trials. 

Actually, these discoveries are not surprising to me. I have long believed that there is a cure in the natural world for every ailment we humans have. We are, wondrously and amazingly, part of a vibrant living network (really no better and no worse, no lower and no higher, than the worm making its way through my garden soil). 

If more humans realized this I am fairly certain we would not be quite so blasé about spraying, dripping and otherwise applying poisons to unwanted "weeds," stepping on a spider or killing a snake or mosquito. Yes, yes, yes, we can get them out of our lawns and homes, off of our skin, away from our food, but it does not have to be done with poisons or the heel of a garden boot. 

Stephen Hawking rightly observes that "greed and stupidity... " will cause the end of the human race. We humans are merely a strand in the web of life; possibly necessary for some biochemical process, maybe even vital (oh the ego!), but probably not. If we continue to destroy, we teeter closer and closer to the edge and will soon self-destruct.  

We are all connected. 
To each other, biologically. 
To the earth, chemically. 
~Neil deGrasse Tysonn

[The many links in this post will give further insight.Thanks to Uplift for the graphic and the additional information] 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Tolerance, Privilege and Security

This Simon Jenkins article from The Guardian, "So you think reason guides your politics? Think again," has been in my blog draft file since I first read it almost three years ago.  I'm aware Jenkins' piece is political in nature. However, I've gone back to read it again and again. Each time, setting aside the article's political bent, I zero in on particular statements that intrigue me. Here's one:

"Reason is ... a weapon we deploy to persuade others that we are right, and they use to prove us wrong. It is not a coming together but a driving apart."  

  It occurs to me that our survival may depend upon our talking to one another.
~Dan Simmon

The statement I found most provocative is, "[T]olerance is itself a privilege of security. Intellectually it is appeasement." Online there are more than 520 comments about Jenkins' article and the one receiving the most opprobrium is the one just quoted. 

I've never been homeless, have never gone without sustenance, have never experienced intentional physical or emotional harm. I consider myself a fairly tolerant person ... you live your life, let me live mine ... and yet admit tolerance on any level is likely much easier when one has good health, a comfortable home, and food in the fridge. 

When you don't know what you're talking about,
it's hard to know when you're finished. 
~ Tommy Smothers

Ah well, as my brother said when he was four years old, "I have a lot of thinks in my head." 


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Winter's Bone Structure

In the midst of winter, I finally learned
that within me there lay an invincible summer.
~Albert Camus

Snow this morning on the way in to work and I once again recall the harsh winter weather of 16 years ago.  

My 81-year old mom had been a widow for two and a half years. Except for some housekeeping and errand help, she lived alone in the home she and Dad had occupied since 1983.

I lived 37 miles from Portland and the East County area where I worked and where Mom lived. I spoke with her daily and at least twice a week stopped by after work to visit.

That particular winter set records for freezing rain and record-setting snowfall. Power lines fell and large trees toppled—especially in the wind-tunnel-like area where my mother lived.

When TV news informed us that all power was out in her section of Portland, I packed some clothing and made plans to stay with Mom as long as necessary. “…as long as necessary” turned out to be six days.

I nailed blankets and tarps across the hallways, lit candles, turned on the gas fireplace and pulled Mom's recliner up close to the warmth.  When she settled in I wrapped her in blankets from the bed. She took it all in stride (she was a North Dakota gal, after all!).

Much about those days is sweetly memorable to me; the two of us talked and laughed, reminisced and remembered—at times tearfully, most often with shared delight.

Outside: A white, completely silent landscape. Inside: Mom wrapped head to toe in blankets, firelight flickering across her beautiful, serene face, outlining the sharp bone structure; the skin of her small and delicate hands stretched taut across blue veins, reminding me of a baby bird just out of the shell.

People don't notice if it's winter or summer 
when they're happy. 
~Anton Chekov