One Among Many

By Bernie Bell

It’s worth remembering that we are only one species, one organism, among many on this planet.

I’ve been thinking that we, humanity, have been preparing ourselves for the attitudes which are being shown towards dealing with Coronavirus, for at least a few hundred years, starting when Science parted ways with spirituality and connection with the Natural World.  We used to feel that we were part of The Universe – now, we appear to believe that we dominate it.

The Age of Reason – or Enlightenment – brought in ideas connected with controlling the Natural World.  We started to think that we humans are all-powerful – in control.

We live in huge tower blocks entirely dependent on electrical power for cooking, heating and light. Deemed necessary because there are so many people, yet being entirely dependent on artificial support systems is potentially a very, very fragile situation to find ourselves living in. Turn the ’lecci off – what happens to us then?

We inhabit parts of the world which are unstable, but think that we can get away with it until something erupts, or overwhelms us with water or mud – or shakes our house to pieces.

Development in medicine progressed to where we believed that we didn’t need to fear bacteria – though over use of anti-biotics has proved us to be mistaken on that one.

There appears to be a general attitude that all illness can be not only cured, but conquered.

We came to think, to believe, that we are invincible – Masters of this world, and potentially other worlds too.

And now a virus, a tiny, microscopic piece of basic genetic material, is causing havoc across the world.  The world which we have come to see as being our world – a world for humans to use and dominate.

Many governments, people, organizations, world-wide aren’t taking this organism seriously enough – are  taking it for granted that we can conquer it, and conquer it quickly, as that is how everything has to happen now.

As soon as levels of deaths or infections decrease, we attempt to step back to ‘normality’.

The levels fluctuate, largely dependent on how we behave.

New variants appear.

Even with both levels of vaccination, it’s not certain that we, as individuals, are completely covered against infection.

Not much is certain in these times.

And yet, many of us are not really, properly taking it seriously enough, because we have trained ourselves, and been trained, to believe that we are invincible, in control, and can conquer Nature.  We can’t.

Species come and go, the Natural World continues, including bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that live with us in balance, until the balance is disturbed.

The whole world has gone out of balance with Nature – we believe ourselves to be in control.

We have access to easy travel to the whole planet in a way that we never had before. Even with Covid restrictions still in place, advertisements on the television encourage us to take  foreign holidays.

We are not invincible – we are not in control. We need to lose the training of the last few hundred years, re-accept our place in the Natural World and The Universe, and work with the life around us, at whatever level, rather than thinking that we can always dominate.

We can’t, and we won’t. 

If we don’t recognize that – we might go under.  It’s happened before to other species, but, as far as we can tell, not through their own arrogance.

Our fate is in our hands. It’s for us to lose our arrogance. Pay attention to and truly work with what is happening to us, and the world around us.

We’ve trained ourselves into this attitude, we need to re-train our collective mind-set………or…..???

William Blake’s Newton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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3 replies »

  1. I would argue that you have it the wrong way around. The Enlightenment (i.e. science) showed humans where they came from (evolution), where they fitted into the environment and how dependent we are upon it (ecology, etc., etc.). Non-scientific beliefs both before and after the Enlightenment are largely responsible for humans assumption that they are “in control”. There is a passage in the Bible “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

    • Hello Andy
      I just want to make it clear that I’m not anti-science – not by any means. You will know that ‘Science’ didn’t used to be as divided from general life as it has become.

      What I am looking at is a tendency I believe to have developed in humans to assume that we can always have what we want – and have it – NOW!

      I think we used to accept the uncertainties of life more than we do now, and I also think that maybe that helped us to ….accept…. and not be so excessively demanding, and therefore worried/neurotic/’hyper’……………

      I risk repeating myself – I’ll say – I’m not anti-science, not at all – the study of various ‘lines’ of science has brought all kinds of benefits, not only to us humans, but to the world in general.

      The Bible? I won’t knock the Bible, as it means a lot to a lot of people, and it has some good things in it.
      It also has Leviticus, which is a dreadful piece of work. It’s very nasty – and about being nasty in all kinds of ways.

      On the other hand – ‘Galapagos’ by Kurt Vonnegut – that’s where our big brains and what we do with them might lead us. And maybe not such a bad thing?

  2. PS
    Another aspect of this collective ‘training’ comes to mind when I see the reports of people going to parks, and also more out of the way places of natural beauty, and leaving a lot of rubbish behind them.
    If these people arrived at these places to find rubbish strewn about, they would be outraged! They expect and demand to find any kind of ‘facility’ (and that’s how they see the world) ready for their enjoyment – which, in a way, is fair enough.
    They then leave their rubbish behind them presuming that ‘someone’ will clear it up – and ‘someone’ always does.
    To me, this is another aspect of the ‘training’ to expect to have everything provided and done for us without taking responsibility for our own actions.

    This training has been decades developing and is fully exhibiting in people’s behaviour – now. Even when it comes to dealing with a deadly virus – don’t take personal responsibility – someone else will sort it out.
    ‘Fraid not.

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