We saw the first robin eating the first worm this first week of April. As soon as they are able, the creatures begin to overwhelm the land with such a profusion of life that we often forget that the Earth itself is separate and distinct from the life upon and within it. When we act upon the planet, we may work from the neck down, but having the heart of the land in our awareness is not enough, understanding how to feed and dispose of the fundamental "waste" products of the land is not enough to harmonize with the planet either. We need to understand and develop a relationship with the head, the hopes and dreams of the land as well as the intellectual capacity and understanding the planet has with what goes on around and within it. When we begin to develop a relationship with the foundation of life, we can gain a better understanding of the whole. The natural phenomena that take place in and around us are mere reflections of the Earth but especially now, as the biological activity increases, it is easy to mistake the profusion of life that depends on the planet as the important part.
This week I have been coming to a much deeper understanding of this fact and this is what I have found. We typically go though life looking at the tops of great pyramids. We use the elements which we are aware of to navigate and create meaning in our lives. To begin to grasp this idea, say one pyramid (since it is topical at this particular moment) is religion. We conceptualize or see a pope, or the Buddha, perhaps a priest or pastor. We look to education and see a teacher or principal, perhaps a school board or state superintendent of public instruction. We go to a store and see the products on the shelves. Each of these "entities" or objects is dependent on a vast support system, nearly beyond our comprehension. Tens of thousands, millions, perhaps billions of discreet relationships were required to create each and every one of these towering pyramids, but we have been trained to think that the apex is the important part.
We have been led to this belief through our own hierarchy of needs, our desire to make sense of the world around us and the predominant focus on soaring heights rather than the basis of our existence. As long as we are willing to forget the foundations and revel in the uppermost part of the structures around us, we will miss the most important part of life itself and remain unable to come to terms with relationship. Like a pyramid, the lives of the slaves who created it are every bit as important as the Pharaohs whose tombs they were built to house. The ruling class has a good laugh at the expense of the lower classes, but without them, the entire system would collapse. I believe that if we went far enough back, the construction workers who built the pyramids would have joked that the first few slaves who were crushed under the extreme weight of the building blocks would work as lubricant and make the stones move more easily, but that if too many were crushed under the blocks it would make them more difficult to move. This dehumanization sounds crass, but we are far too willing to buy into the seductive belief that what we do is justifiable and that the goals which we have, no matter how high aloft, must rest on the exploitation of resources that we rely on for us to build to ever-higher levels. Exploitation rather than relationship are the watchwords of the failed systems, be they religious, economic, political or spiritual.
The value of and sheer number of people who have been willing to sacrifice themselves to the creation of the "pyramids" that we recognize today must be taken into account if we are to see the whole more clearly. Producing grain and meat in the Desert Southwest, or upon the Great Plains has depleted the largest aquifer in North America. The Colorado River has been reduced to a salty waste discharge in Mexico that never reaches the sea. The massive debt that has led to the formation of our food system has enslaved millions of farm workers. The "belief" in god has translated into exploitation and oppression of millions of souls for the enrichment of a precious few. Even the bald eagle cannot thrive without a billion minute creatures filling their specific niche in the environment. When we look deeply into any of the systems that lead to our current state of affairs, we will be struck with the power of relationship and the Earth itself only creates a stage upon which these relationships can be played out. Change never starts at the top. We are each responsible for making new foundations if we are to grow a new system that values relationship and humanity, true peace and security depend on relationship, not the soaring peaks of power and control.