During our class this past Friday, while Dr. Giorgis was providing a response to a question, he made mention that there exists a powerlessness in admitting the influence that the earth has on society. I began to question why this was. Why was it difficult to acknowledge that the earth is a living thing separate from us as human beings?
When I say the earth is living, I mean that (as morbid as this may sound) without the influence of human beings, the planet Earth would still exist.
Much like the human body, the earth has its own processes of self-regulation, reactions to changes and catalysts as well as adjustments that it makes in order to survive within its environment the solar system. These processes are as natural to it as breathing is to us, and as inhabitants, we can only react accordingly. Taking this a step further our human curiosity leads us to investigate and as result, there are vast ranges of scientific fields dedicated to understanding the complexity of the Earth and its processes. Despite all this knowledge, when it comes to realizing that we don’t have control over the Earth we react with a skepticism of how much (if at all) the Earth impacts us. It becomes difficult to accept that though we can’t see the processes (like the water cycle or movement of rocks and minerals beneath the crust) we are directly impacted with the results (rain or earthquakes).
In my Cross Cultural Psychology course, our professor introduced the concept of cultural adaptiveness which explains that behaviors that increase the chances of survival within a culture will flourish. This link between survival and culture, (and therefore the establishment of societies) is approached cautiously by some, possibly because the relationship is not directly caused by human actions, instead, we are reacting to the actions of the living Earth. Nur addresses this concern as well in the introduction to Apocalypse by shedding light on the skepticism of the impact that natural disasters have on societies: “Some researchers deny that earthquakes, and by analogy, other sudden natural events, may have played a bigger role in shaping history, simply because these sudden occurrences are not manmade” (Nur 5). To admit that natural disasters impact our existence with the intensity that they do would mean also admitting that a large portion of our existence is not determined by us. To not have control of a living being as influential as the earth is terrifying enough and so it becomes easier to ignore it.
There seems to be too much vulnerability in addressing our lack of authority over every single aspect of our experience as human beings. In order to regain some level of control, we entirely ignore the influence of the Earth and consider it a weakness if we survive rather than dominate.