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Elemental Connections Part 3 of 4: EARTH
ECO NEWS, March 2009, by Deanna Fry
Part 3 of 4:
Mountains, valleys, forests, deserts, and grasslands... all of these places and many more are found on this planet Earth, our home. We call her ‘Mother Earth’ and ‘Mother Nature’ because she gives us life and has been like a mother to us, and to all living things, for many millions of years. This is one place in the universe where we know for sure that the four natural elements of Water, Fire, Earth and Air combine to create and sustain life.
LIFE FROM EARTH
The Earth element refers to the actual rock, sand and soil that are the foundation of the physical planet. In it all things grow, and out of it all things arise, as the earth renews itself through the cycle of birth, life, growth, death, decay and decomposition. So, get ‘down to earth’. Really get down on your hands and knees to feel the grass, soil, sand or rocks beneath you. Poke about in a rotting log to see the life in death. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, then jump up and look all around; behold all that grows in nature and celebrate!
LIVING OFF THE LAND
For tens of thousands of years, small nomadic groups of human beings all over the world hunted, gathered and travelled with the seasons to live by using only what nature provided. Their food and everything else came from the earth, plants and animals around them. Stone, bone and wood were used for making tools. Furs, skins and plants became clothing and shelter. These original people worked cooperatively for the good of the community. They took only what they needed, gratefully, living sustainably and considering themselves a part of nature; part of an interconnected circle of life. Many indigenous peoples around the world today still carry this ancient, Aboriginal wisdom.
Things began to change about 8,000 years ago in the Middle East, when people started to stay in one place. This was due to the agricultural revolution, when people learned to plant seeds and keep animals within fences. Now it was possible to store more than was needed, and some people became greedy as they began to accumulate wealth. The concept of land ownership and the growth of money and social class systems saw villages grow into cities, as entrepreneurs continued to find new ways to exploit and profit from processing natural resources. Competition created wars and people grew apart from nature. This was, and still is, called progress.
SMALL POPULATION, LARGE DAMAGE CONTRIBUTION
Here in North America, we have only 5% of the world’s population, yet we use more than 30% of the earth’s natural resources and we produce more than one third of its waste. We have become a culture of consumers who never seem to have enough stuff! We’re the people who want everything to be newer, easier and faster, even when the majority of the 5.8 billion people living in our world today survive on less than $1.00 a day and don’t have adequate shelter, enough food or access to clean drinking water. This is even when the processes used to make all our stuff are polluting and damaging the planet beyond repair. (Go to www.storyofstuff.com to find out more.)
MORE THAN 3 R’s
By having become ‘apart from’ nature, rather than being ‘a part of ‘ nature, some of the human beings on this planet Earth are threatening our home and her ability to create and sustain life. So, think about it and realize that there are many more than 3R’s. Review your priorities, reduce your ecological footprint by refusing to over-consume, reuse and recycle everything that you can. Go for a walk on a mountain, in a valley, forest, desert or grassland, and feel your connection to the Earth element. Reflect on how you can become part of the solution for Mother Earth, rather than continuing to be part of the problem!