Natural systems and biodiversity
When we go outside and look into the living environment, whether it be into a small pavement bounded lawn, a public park, a local waterway, or a vast nature reserve, we will notice that there are many things there existing together.
What we know from earth systems science is that for a living environment to be healthy and sustainable it requires as high a degree of biodiversity as it can support. The environments ability to support this biodiversity is a direct measure of its health. When natural systems are healthy, they are constantly changing and evolving, lifeforms are adapting to the prevailing conditions as best they can, some species thrive, others fail and the balance changes over the course of time. What all healthy thriving natural systems have in common is reliable sources of water, integrity of the soil, adaptive vegetation and populations of microbes, fungi, and insects which anchor the food chain for larger plants and animals. In turn these tiny keystone species are dependent upon a conducive environment in which to flourish, so we can see that a natural system is a set of interdependent sub-systems.
Personalities and the world of diverse, unique individuals
Anyone with family or friends knows that every single person has qualities that are theirs alone. This is what makes being human bearable, the fact that we are all different, even if ever so slightly, and knowing that no matter how well we may know someone, there is always a surprise waiting to happen as they grow and change. Each of us has become who we are through the experiences we have had in our lives. We see the world through the diverse lenses of both our personal expectations, and the cultural conditioning that we have received throughout our lives from the world around us, including our family and friends, our education system, the media and a set of social norms to which are expected to conform. Depending on your life circumstances, you may have very different perceptions of life to those of your neighbours or workmates, fellow students or club members. Even when we have much in common with each other, there will always be differences, great or small – this is the essence of diversity in human personalities and behaviours.
Human systems and cultural diversity
The human species has become adept at exercising control over the systems within which it operates and upon which it ultimately depends. Beginning with agricultural systems at the dawn of civilisation we have adapted the environment to benefit ourselves, changing watercourses, building infrastructure, and experimenting with social governance and systems of exchange, transportation and communication systems, and ultimately power generation systems. During the long course of our developmental history as a human civilisation many cultures became strong and began interacting. The diversity of human cultures, including languages, modes of production, traditions, narratives and attitudes over time has been enormous and is inestimably valuable when we begin to understand how vital diversity is in order for life itself to flourish. Human cultures evolved to co-exist with their specific bio-regions on earth and until only a few hundred years ago, existed in relative isolation from one another. These cultures had knowledge of the land and water upon which their futures depended and an intimate relationship with the environment in which they lived through spiritual traditions and folklore.
As human civilisation had progressively been dominated by industrial modes of production, many of these relatively harmonious societies have been at the very least compromised, and in large part entirely consumed, or systematically eradicated. The diversity of cultures that once ensured the long-term viability of the human species has been seriously eroded as the industrial and now technological revolutions have forced homogeneity upon most of the human race. Lack of tolerance for expressions of requisite diversity in human cultures has been threatening to render our planet uninhabitable in increasingly effective ways since the end of WWII. The situation where all humans are expected to act as fuel for the global economic machine is threatening the biodiversity of our planet and the viability of our species.
It is clear that things have been changing, and will continue to do so. Whether things continue to change for the worse, or begin to change for the better remains to be seen.
Interdependent systems of diversity equals the viability of sustainable life on Earth
So how can we, ordinary folks seemingly caught up in the current dominant socio-economic paradigm, use our new-found understanding of interdependent diverse systems, to improve the quality of life for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities?
As individuals we can act on the imperative to be our unique selves, to speak freely of that which we would like to see happening in our local areas, to write inspiring letters and emails to people and groups with the power or funds to implement new modes of interaction and production in our local areas. We can come together as communities in spirit, to express our joy in living, to support each other in meeting the basic needs of life, and to surrender that which is not truly necessary with a view to improving the quality of life for future generations. We can dare to be different in this world of conformity, we can encourage each other and inspire others to liberate themselves from the limitations of a world gone mad. We can replant the forests, seemingly a huge task, but being successfully done all over the planet by folks who know the value of biodiversity, and the health benefits of getting their fingers and toes into the soil of our precious mother earth. We can establish and share community gardens, we can pressure our local governments to support community initiatives, and to oppose environmentally damaging development.
It really is up to us to make these changes happen – go outside, find others who have a common vision of a future worth living in, and do whatever you can to make that future as diverse and full of life as you can – by being your unique self, and joining the growing multitudes of unique individuals who make up the cultures that respect diversity and freedom.
This article published in Connect Magazine, August 2015 Edition.
Imagineer, Metaphysician, Photographer
Glistening is available to consult with communities, NGO’s and other organisations and individuals who want to participate in a culture which ensures a future worth living in