We must all understand that Human Nature, Human Being, is not something apart from the biosphere which provides our life support system. This is especially important for you young people who are taking over the decision-making processes that govern all of our lives. The well-being of present and future generations of Human Beings depends on our relationships with each other and with everything else in Nature. This is the essence of Human Nature.
Nature, or Mother Nature as many of us prefer to recognize her, comes from a delicately balanced relationship between our Mother Earth and the Sun, our father, just as each of us comes from an intimate relationship between our human mother and father. This is one of the important truths that tribal peoples all around the world have known for thousands of years. Many people have lost sight of this and other truths of Human Nature in recent generations. They are not aware of the origins and evolution of our species or the need for us to contribute to maintaining a healthy relationship with others in Mother Nature’s life support system as we live each day.
Elders in ancient communities, and a good number living with us today, have been a very important resource to young people. Through many years of experience and learning, much of it passed to them from their elders, they have acquired knowledge and wisdom that can be very helpful in seeing the truth, and what is truly valuable in our lives. It is so important that the facts of life, of Mother Nature and Human Nature, are not lost in the avalanche of TV, internet and other media commercials from corporations and politicians who work hard at convincing us that accumulating household possessions and boosting national economic growth are the most important things in our lives.
So, is this Mother Nature – Human Nature relationship spiritual, biological, cultural or what? It is all three. The biological and spiritual relationship is pretty clear to any thinking person who acknowledges that Human Being involves body, mind and spirit for each of us. As for culture, countless stories, songs, essays and books have been spoken, performed and written by inspired elders and others through the centuries. This happens within the cultural context of each story teller. People who study cultural expressions from around the world and over the centuries are invariability struck by the common themes of creation and Human Nature. The stories reflect different climates, landscapes, water features, plants, animals and other unique aspects of their local environment. They tell of local history, traditions and ancestors, but they speak of the same processes of creation and the same interrelationships of Human Nature, Mother Nature and the Creator.
As an elder I hold the view that our culture and the collective expressions of Human Nature are associated with one or more communities. The traditional, customary and ‘new wave’ behaviour that is associated with these social unions expresses the culture that we each chose to involve ourselves in. Our individual communities are local elements of tribes, religions, nations, provinces and other cultural creations that evolve and transform over time.
My primary community relationship beyond family is with naturalists. They are in my view a tribe that covers the Earth, with many local communities that share a unifying respect and appreciation of Nature. They welcome and support one another. What naturalists lack in the kind of wealth and power that governments and corporations build for themselves is more than made up for by their close adherence to truth, respect and awe. These stem from philosophy, the parent of science, art and all of the best expressions of Human Nature.
I grew up in a place called Indiana, originally a territory designated by the young government of the United States as a land base for the indigenous tribes in the area and other American Indian people who were displaced from their traditional territories. Sadly this did not stand. There are many lessons to be learned from this history and similar stories of the conquest of the Americas, Africa and other places by cultures of European origin – examples of the darker side of Human Nature.
Connecting with our Human Nature and other beings with which we share landscapes and ecosystems that sustain us can inspire and uplift us as we struggle with life’s day-to-day challenges. As a Boy Scout in Indiana and a university student in the west coast region I thought I had learned what Nature was all about. But that didn’t really happen until I began spending time with tribal people, first in East Africa and then in North America. What I had been missing before this happened was a deeper understanding of the importance of respecting the universe, Mother Earth, Mother Nature and our Human Nature as gifts from the Creator. I sometimes feel a loss in that I am no longer closely connected with my indigenous tribal ancestors, the Celtic people of northern Europe. This connection is, however, coming back slowly as I continue to expand my life’s learning experiences and ability to connect.
Having discovered my spiritual and cultural connections with naturalists early on has made up for the personal losses I felt as I distanced myself through the years from the religion, nationality and other cultural inheritances I grew up with. The best things about being a naturalist are the great beauty, wonder, excitement and peace that you experience as you connect with Mother Nature. Political boundaries are not a primary consideration and it costs little to enjoy this great gift!
Human Nature, as I said in my earlier blog back in November 2013, involves cultural choices like whether to allow biologically harmful industrial forestry to take place in our watersheds or make sure that ecoforestry is practiced instead. This is what stewardship of our environment and natural resources is all about. Good life choices will bring people together – bad ones will bring conflict and a less healthy, poorer environment for future generations.
In his book The Sacred Balance: discovering our place in Nature, David Suzuki helped us to understand that we Human Beings have an important role in maintaining Mother Nature’s wonders, especially her complex and delicate eco-systems that are both ecological and economic life support systems required for human well being. This is the responsibility aspect of Human Nature, being caretakers and stewards of our natural environment. It makes us special, right?
Posted by Josef Kuhn