When we are at home with ourselves, peace finds a heart in which to grow. It is a light we can share, compassion. So much fear is projected onto the “other” that hate spreads like a contagion on the news. It just doesn’t stop, that heart numbing chatter, the internet offering images of school shootings and cute baby animals in the blink of an eye. Imagine you were a peaceful space explorer who tuned in to the projected psychosis of the human mind via waves of social media. Would you stop?
The ego’s job is to stake out territory we describe as “me.” Sometimes, that’s all we see. Yet, I AM. Not the giant Me, the human being (I) of which we are all members. It is not an exclusive club; we are one in space and time. And I would argue, we all add to the human experience, transcending time. Sociologists have debated the pros and cons of “The Social Organism” for centuries. MIT has a Center for Collective Intelligence that seeks to harness the power of computers to encourage cultural evolution, creating a more civilized society. But the social pathology we are bombarded by every minute of the day is rooted in emotional suffering more than the symptomatic ideologies that compete for supremacy.
I remember reading about Pando, the trembling giant, an 80,000 year old stand of Aspen trees once thought to be the largest living organism in the world. Aspen trees are clones, sending out new tree shoots from the connected root of the whole. Pando, identical male trees covering 107 acres in Utah has not only been dethroned, it is dying.
The reigning largest organism lives in Oregon, It is the Honey Mushroom or Armillaria ostoyae. Scientists have estimated a single specimen found in Malheur National Forest in Oregon to have been growing for some 2,400 years, covering 3.4 square miles (8.4 km²) and colloquially named the “Humongous Fungus.”
One step closer to humanity, this parasitic mushroom reproduces sexually and absorbs nutrients by sending fibrous tentacles through the root systems of conifers, in plate like sheets, sucking the life from the land and its host trees. One of the best ways to produce disease resistant forests is to plant mixed species. This creates myriad, symbiotic life forms that control predatory dominance.
And what of the human organism? We are a mixed species, adapted to every nook and cranny of our host, the earth. If we are to avoid paraciticism, our diversity must be celebrated, survival stress reduced and efforts made to integrate the individual into a healthy whole society. It’s time for sane, compassionate acceptance of our differences. But we are stuck fighting the symptoms, the political, economic and religious beliefs that create enemies in every direction. Fear, anger and love are forces for societal cohesion. We saw how powerful the angry Fuhrer became, moving a nation to war, building a core around hatred of the “other”. It seems that the part cannot overcome the power of the whole, so eventually the fury of the Nazis fell to the union of allies. How many other tyrants have since come and gone?
Every religious tradition extols peace and the primacy of human love, yet many will not recognize that which they share. The omnipotent, omnipresent God remains ineffable, somewhere out there, like a holy shadow. It is the shadow – that which we reject in ourselves and others – we must integrate, both personally and collectively. If we don’t act on the need to create a common center, recognizing our inner flame of love for humanity, we will continue to move in a parasitic direction, devouring our planet and each other.
It is up to us