We can only live because other life exists

Yesterday I was invited to send in a short video in which I could explain my deepest motivation for our work here. I had to think about that for a minute. We have a lot of different motives for our work, so what is the core of what we think and try to achieve? To properly figure that out I decided to start writing down some thoughts.

I think our life is a gift, it for sure is not something we can make, at most we can pass it on if we receive a child. It is also not something we deserved, because we received life before we did anything at all. If it is a gift, does that mean you can just do anything you want with it, or does it come with inherent responsibilities?

Life can only exist because there is other life: the plants and animals around us. We receive our food from them. We have wood for construction, cotton for clothes. Is all that other life also a gift to us? We seem to think that somehow everything belongs to people. Or is other life a gift by itself given to another life form, just like our life is a personal gift to ourselves? Or is all life a gift to all other life on this planet?

Why did we humans loose our view of reality on our planet? Why do we kill insects and weeds when they ‘interfere’ with our flower garden? Why do some people think that milk and cheese are made in factories? Does anyone know what their leather shoes were made of? Do we understand anything at all about what ‘life’ is? How life is connected to everything around us and with everything we need?

What’s the use of people on earth? In Permaculture we always look at an animal in all its functions before we place it in a system. We could do the same thought exercise for people. What is our function on this planet, why are we here, why did we receive the gift of life?

What are our characteristics and how do humans differ from other animals? We make tools, some of which are incredibly complicated like modern aircraft or the internet. We plan ahead and if we want to we can think about effects many generations from today. We like balance because it gives us security. We protect the weak. We like to experiment and to gain understanding.

We also share similarities with animals. We want the best for ourselves and we can fight over it, just like the pig pushes its siblings aside to gain most of the food. In extremes we can be totally selfish or power hungry. We can be stupid and stubborn, like the chicken who keeps laying her eggs on the tilted roof, although they keep falling off and break when they hit the ground. Sometimes we are cruel, like the cat killing a bird and then leaving it beside the road, just because he can. We can be territorial like predators who accept no competition. Nature only seems to work when balance is kept, to keep all greed, voracity and violence in check. We people often are no better than animals.

If we can see we can make a difference because we have such specific abilities, maybe we can understand why the earth gives us life. If everything on this planet has a function to keep all life in balance and to further life itself, then we can use our abilities to create a paradise. The big question is if we as humanity can free ourselves from greed and exploitation of the planet to take on our natural tasks.

In a way we’re the most evolved element on earth. We have been very successful in growing our numbers and we dominate the planet. The choice for everyone of us is if we want to escalate our dominance to being a downright plague or if we rather take up our place between all other life. Can we switch from economy to ecology, or do we sacrifice earth to our greed instead? Do we value the manmade abstract financial capital or the reality of natural capital? Do we use the gift of life to exterminate other life or to stimulate life? Do we continue to isolate us in total misunderstanding of our beautiful planet, or do we seek the knowledge so we can fit into the complex ecosystems all around us? Do we continue to believe the Titanic is unsinkable, or do we demand the course to be changed because our lives depend on it?

My deepest motivation for our work is life. Because us humans can do better than we do now. Because this is such a beautiful and exciting planet. Because only by respecting other life you can live. Because there is so much still to learn.

Now all I have left to do is squeeze this in a one minute video, or start all over again with another motivation for our work…


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